Museums and activism: Slaying the zombie myth of institutional neutrality

30 Apr 2019

Beka Economopoulos and Jason Jones (USA)

Co-founders of The Natural History Museum, a Not An Alternative project. Not An Alternative is a collective that works at the intersection of art, activism and theory.

In a post-truth era, the role of trusted institutions of science is more important than ever. Drawing on recent initiatives organized by The Natural History Museum–a traveling pop-up museum founded by the activist art collective Not An Alternative–this talk will explore how The Natural History Museum leverages the symbolic and infrastructural power of science museums to transform them into vital infrastructures for environmental progress, champions of science for the common good, and advocates for a just and sustainable future.

Established in 2014, The Natural History Museum is a traveling pop-up museum that explores the socio-political forces that shape nature, yet are excluded from traditional natural history and science museums. The Natural History Museum collaborates with artists, curators, community groups, scientists, and museum professionals to create new narratives about our shared history and future, with the goal of educating the public, measurably influencing public opinion, and inspiring collective action.

The Natural History Museum is the latest project of Not An Alternative, a collective that since 2004 has worked at the intersection of art, activism, and critical theory. The group’s work has been featured within Guggenheim, PS1/MOMA, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Queens Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and Museo del Arte Moderno, and in the public sphere. Not An Alternative connects a growing coalition of museum workers, activist scientists, and communities.