The Circular Museum, a collaboration between MoMA’s Ambasz Institute and ART 2030, is a virtual panel-discussion series inviting artists, curators, exhibition designers, and other museum practitioners from around the world to talk about their efforts to address the climate crisis through their work. How is incorporating sustainability and circularity into various levels of museum practice not only urgent, but desirable.

In six sessions, the series will examine how museums and cultural workers have—and can—consider and implement circular and sustainable museological practices. Through detailed discussions of efforts to make exhibition design more environmentally friendly, the Circular Museum brings museum practitioners and artists together with MoMA’s Carson Chan and ART 2030’s Luise Faurschou to elaborate on sustainability practices, challenges, and reflections.

From February to July, the program invites cultural practitioners and art audiences worldwide to join reflective discussions on museums as relevant spaces for positive change.

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Carson Chan is the inaugural director of the Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and Natural Environment, and a curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design. He develops, leads, and implements the Ambasz Institute’s manifold research initiatives through a range of programs, including exhibitions, public lectures, conferences, seminars, and publications. Before joining MoMA in 2021, he worked as an architecture writer, curator, and educator. In 2006 he cofounded PROGRAM, a project space and residency program in Berlin that tested the disciplinary boundaries of architecture through exhibition making. Chan co-curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale in 2012, and the year after he served as executive curator of the Biennial of the Americas in Denver. He holds a bachelor of architecture degree from Cornell University and a master’s of design studies from Harvard Graduate School of Design. His doctoral research at Princeton University tracks the architecture of public aquariums in the postwar United States against the rise of environmentalism as a social and intellectual movement. He is a founding editor of Current: Collective for Architecture History and Environment, an online publishing and research platform that foregrounds the environment in the study of architecture history.

Luise Faurschou is founder and CEO of ART 2030, a nonprofit organization uniting art and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Global Goals. By combining the universal language of art with the Global Goals, ART 2030 promotes peace, equality, and a healthy world for 2030. Joined by visionaries from the art world, ART 2030 works to create art projects, platforms, and experiences for everyone to engage with the Global Goals—the plan for people, planet, and prosperity.  Faurschou is also a curator, cultural entrepreneur, and the founding director of Faurschou Art Resources. With over 30 years of experience in the art industry, Faurschou has worked with an array of world-renowned artists, including Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Naumann, Ai Weiwei, and others.

Episode 6: Ecology and Sustainability beyond Museum Walls

The sixth episode brings artist/seeker/farmer Tabita Rezaire together with Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, who collaborated as part of the 2022 exhibition Back to Earth, which questioned how art can respond to the climate emergency. This conversation will explore how artists and museum practitioners can utilize ecological practices and meditations, from the corporeal to the technological, within the museum and beyond its walls.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is artistic director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, and senior advisor at LUMA Arles. Previously, he was the curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Since his first show, World Soup (The Kitchen Show) in 1991, he has curated more than 350 exhibitions. Obrist’s recent publications include Ways of Curating (2015), The Age of Earthquakes (2015), Lives of the Artists, Lives of Architects (2015), Mondialité (2017), Somewhere Totally Else (2018), The Athens Dialogues (2018), Maria Lassnig: Letters (2020), Entrevistas Brasileiras: Volume 2 (2020), and 140 Ideas for Planet Earth (2021).

Tabita Rezaire is infinity longing to experience itself. As an eternal seeker, her path as an artist, devotee, yogi, doula, and farmer weaves healing arts and scientific systems through connections to the land, the ancestors, the songs. Her cross-dimensional practices envision network sciences—organic, electronic, and spiritual—as healing technologies to serve the shift toward heart consciousness. Embracing digital, corporeal, and ancestral memory, she digs into scientific imaginaries and mystical realms to tackle the colonial wounds and energetic imbalances that affect the songs of our body-mind-spirits. Tabita is based in French Guiana, where she is caring for AMAKABA.

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Episode 5: Representing and Implementing Alternative Futures

The fifth episode brings artist Josh Kline together with Johanna Burton, the Maurice Marciano Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles for a conversation about their distinct experiences and perspectives as artist and facilitator, respectively. Kline uses immersive installations that employ video, sculpture, photography, and design to explore today’s most urgent social and political issues, interlinking climate change, automation, disease, and the weakening of democracy.

MOCA is the first major art museum in the United States to establish an Environmental Council, which works alongside MOCA staff to embed environmental consideration into all aspects of museum operations. As Burton will discuss, MOCA is also centering climate in its public programs and exhibitions, including a landmark 2024 exhibition focused on Josh Kline’s Climate Change cycle.

This discussion is an opportunity to look forward, focusing on Kline’s and Burton’s aspirations for their future projects, and presenting the audience with insight into their collaboration and production processes.

Johanna Burton has been the Maurice Marciano Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles since November 2021. Burton has been active in the contemporary art field for more than 20 years, including more than a decade of leadership experience in major museums and prominent arts and education institutions. An art historian, curator, writer, and educator, Burton’s past posts include her tenures as executive director of the Wexner Center for the Arts, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum, director of the graduate program at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS), and associate director and senior faculty member at the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program (ISP). She was a 2019 Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) Fellow.

Josh Kline (b. 1979, Philadelphia, USA) is best known for creating immersive installations–using video, sculpture, photography, and design–that question how emergent technologies are being used to change human life in the 21st Century. Kline’s practice is focused on work and class, exploring how today’s most urgent social and political issues—climate change, automation, disease, and the weakening of democracy—impact the people who make up the labor force. Kline’s art has been widely exhibited in the United States and internationally. Kline’s works are included in the collections of major museums including those of The Museum of Modern Art; The Guggenheim; The Whitney Museum; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Kline is currently the subject of a museum survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

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Episode 4: The Journey to Sustainability Onsite

The fourth episode brings together artist Olafur Eliasson and curator Yuko Hasegawa to revisit their collaboration on the exhibition Sometimes the river is the bridge at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in 2020. Having approached the project as a pilot for ‘sustainable exhibition making, the exhibition resulted in displays of artworks powered by solar panels and recorded drawings of their low-emission transport journey from Berlin to Tokyo. This conversation revisits the challenges and successes of a pilot and unfolds upon its learnings for sustainable artistic and curatorial practices today.

Yuko Hasegawa is the Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. She was Professor in Curatorial Studies at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts, and Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. 

She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the 2nd Thailand Biennale, Korat (2021), Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2020), Fukami: A Plunge into the Japanese Aesthetic, Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Paris (2018), the 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017), and Japanorama: NEW VISION ON ART SINCE 1970, Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017).

Olafur Eliasson is an Icelandic-Danish artist who works with sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation, and digital media. His works continuously explore the relevance of art in the world at large. Eliasson is internationally renowned for installations that challenge the way we perceive and co-create our environments. Since the mid-1990s, he has realised numerous major exhibitions and created works in public space around the world. The weather project (2003), an enormous artificial sun shrouded by mist, in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London, was seen by more than two million people. For his project Ice Watch, Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing brought free-floating icebergs from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, to public squares in European cities (Copenhagen, 2014; Paris, 2015; and London, 2018) to raise awareness of the climate crisis. In 2020, Sometimes the river is the bridge at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo focused on hosting an exhibition sustainably. In the same year Eliasson created Earth Speakr together with children around the world and with support from the German Federal Foreign Office; a global artwork that invites kids to speak up for the planet.

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Episode 3: Systematic Designs To Tackle Waste And Maximize Building Efficiency

The third episode brings us to The Museum of Modern Art to discuss the topic of developing systematic designs to be more sustainable across the Museum. Hear from MoMA’s director of exhibition design and production, Lana Hum, about her approach to waste reduction during the exhibition design process, and from Jason Smith and Eliana Glicklich-Cohn, senior managers of sustainability, about how they have implemented strategies and measurements to minimize the museum’s operational waste, energy usage, and carbon footprint.

Lana Hum has been serving as MoMA’s director of exhibition design and production since 2013. She joined the institution in 2003 as an exhibition designer and production manager. Before that, she was the manager of design and construction at the Whitney Museum and an exhibition designer at several creative organizations, including M & Co., the Jewish Museum, and the Taller Puertorriqueño in Philadelphia. With a background in architecture from leading firms like Pei Cobb Freed & Associates and Gluckman Mayner Associates, Hum leads a talented team of designers, production managers, and builders in producing MoMA’s exhibition program. From 2015 to 2019 she worked closely with the Museum’s curators, conservators, and the exhibitions and collections teams in the planning and implementation of the Museum’s renovation and expansion project, opening 175,000 square feet of newly reimagined gallery spaces. Boosting environmental sustainability in the exhibition design and construction fields has been a longstanding pursuit for her and the Exhibition Design and Production team she leads. She earned a BA in fine art from Wesleyan University.

Jason K. Smith, the senior project manager for real estate and sustainability at MoMA, brings 30 years of private- and public-sector experience in the engineering, construction, and real estate industries. Smith is responsible for executing MoMA’s multiyear infrastructure capital planning and project-management strategy, guided by the Museum’s sustainability mission. Smith is a professional engineer and has a BSME from the University of Alaska and an MS from the University of Sussex, England.

Eliana Glicklich-Cohn is the senior manager of real estate and sustainability at MoMA. Prior to this position, she was the project manager of real estate expansion at MoMA, where one of her top priorities was obtaining LEED Platinum certification for the Museum’s expansion project. Glicklich-Cohn has over 18 years of experience in the museum and visual-arts nonprofit sectors, having also held positions in financial management, copyright licensing, fundraising, and audience development. Glicklich-Cohn has a BA in art history from Vassar College and an MA in arts administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.

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Episode 2: Exploring Sustainability Through Experimentation

The second episode brings together artist Jeppe Hein and Gitte Ørskou, director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Expanding upon their collaboration on the 2022 exhibition Jeppe Hein: Who Are You Really?, which was produced entirely without shipping works to the museum and instead focused on interactions between the building, collection, and visitors, this conversation explores how collaborative experimentation between artist and museum can act as a catalyst for shifting toward sustainable and circular exhibition production.

Gitte Ørskou is a Danish art historian, curator, and museum director. Since 2019, she has been the director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden’s national gallery of modern and contemporary art. From 2009, she was the director at Kunsten – Museum of Modern Art Aalborg. Ørskou was chief curator at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum from 2001 to 2009, and she served as the chairman of the Danish National Art Foundation. She holds positions on several boards, has been responsible for the Danish representation at the Venice Biennial on several occasions, and is the author of numerous articles and books on modern and contemporary art.

Jeppe Hein is a Danish artist based in Berlin. He studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and the Städel Hochschule fur̈ Bildende Kun̈ ste in Frankfurt a. M. Hein’s works often feature surprising and captivating elements that place spectators at the center of events and focus on their experience and perception of the surrounding space. He has had solo shows at venues including Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2022), Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York (2015), 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2011), ARoS Kunstmuseum, Århus (2009), Barbican Art Centre, London (2007), and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2005). He participated in the Venice Biennial in 2019 and 2003. Permanent installations of his work are on view at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art (2021), LaGuardia Airport, New York (2020), and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2013)

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Episode 1: Ways of Collecting and Commissioning

The first episode brings together artist Tino Sehgal and Frances Morris, Director of Tate Modern, to reflect on how the artist and the institution have each incorporated environmental considerations into the processes of collecting and commissioning. As spaces in service of both present and future publics, how can our museums utilize these practices to foster sustainability in our global society?

Frances Morris is the Director of Tate Modern since 2016. She is a curator, writer and broadcaster, Frances has made many exhibitions and publications, including acclaimed retrospectives of Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama and Agnes Martin. Frances has led the transformation of Tate’s International Collection, strategically broadening and diversifying its international reach and representation, through displays and exhibitions. Since 2019 Frances has championed Tate’s responses to climate and ecological emergency, and acted as Chair to Cimam’s working group on sustainability. Frances is currently a member of the Advisory Committee, Serralves Museum, Porto; the Scientific Board, MNAC, Bucharest; the International Advisory Committee, Mori Art Museum Tokyo and the Scientific Committee, Mudam, Luxembourg.

Tino Sehgal is a critically acclaimed artist whose work derives from his radical artistic practice that takes the form of “constructed situations”: live encounters between visitors and those enacting the work. Their ephemeral beauty rests in the fleeting specificity of the encounter, where players often engage the visitors with their active participation in constructing the piece. Sehgal’s abandoning of material production in favor of lived experience is nevertheless achieved with a sensitivity to classical considerations of form, composition and space, grounded not only in the history of dance but also western traditions of sculpture and painting.

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Automated captioning is available for all online programs. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation and live captioning are available for public programs upon request with two weeks’ advance notice. MoMA will make every effort to provide accommodation for requests made with less than two weeks’ notice. For accessibility questions or accommodation requests please email [email protected] or call (212) 708-9781.

This session will be led virtually through Zoom, a free video-conferencing software. Participants are encouraged to use a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a camera and Internet access, if possible. Participants may also dial in using a phone line. Participants will receive a Zoom link upon registering.

This series was made possible through a generous gift from Emilio Ambasz. The Emilio Ambasz Institute for the Joint Study of the Built and the Natural Environment is a platform for fostering dialogue, promoting conversation, and facilitating research about the relationship between the built and natural environment, with the aim of making the interaction between architecture and ecology visible and accessible to the wider public while highlighting the urgent need for an ecological recalibration.