Extreme Exhibitry

New York City is getting a museum entirely devoted to climate change.

Olafur Eliasson’s sketch for a future Climate Museum in New York.


Illustrated by: Studio Olafur Eliasson

After Hurricane Sandy left much of Manhattan feeling powerless against extreme weather, storm surges, and sea-level rise (and literally powerless in regards to electricity) in 2012, one New Yorker named Miranda Massie grew inspired to spark public discourse on climate science, risks, and solutions. She quit her job as a civil rights lawyer and began a project to build a museum entirely dedicated to climate change. It’s aptly named the Climate Museum.

Artist Olafur Eliasson and teams from the Rhode Island School of Design and Tisch School of the Arts have drawn up concept sketches for the facility, which received a provisional charter from the state last month. With climatologist profiles and interactive exhibits on what the future may bring, the museum hopes to host (and educate) a million visitors annually. Massie recently told the New York Times: “If you don’t have the right to thrive as an organism, then everything else falls away…I came to see the environment as a civil rights issue.”

Illustration from RISD student Erin Graham's proposal for the future Climate Museum
Illustration from RISD student Ann McKinnon's proposal for the future Climate Museum
Illustration from RISD student Genevieve Marsh's proposal for the future Climate Museum
Illustration from RISD student Robert Sugar's proposal for the future Climate Museum

Student proposals courtesy of RISD. The Design Studio on the Climate Museum was offered by the RISD Departments of Architecture and Interior Architecture and taught by Anne Tate, Architecture, and Nadine Gerdts, Landscape Architecture.

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