The Time Machine: challenging perceptions of time and place to enhance climate change engagement through museums

Henry McGhie, Sarah Mander, Asher Minns


This article explores how museums can help empower people to engage constructively with climate change, through applying a range of time-related concepts to their exhibitions and events. Museums are mostly collections of the past. Climate change now and future presents particular challenges as it is perceived to be psychologically distant. The link between this distance and effective climate action is complex and presents an opportunity for museums, as sites where psychological distance can be explored in safe, consequence-free ways. This paper explores how we can use museums to help develop understanding within the rhetoric of climate change to assist visitors with their personal or collective response to the climate challenge. Time-related concepts including Foucault’s heterotopia, long-term thinking as advocated in the History Manifesto and the ‘Big Here and Long Now’, are explored in relation to museums as potential tools for constructive climate change engagement. 


climate change, museums, public engagement, psychological distance

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Copyright (c) 2020 henry mcghie, Sarah Mander, Asher Minns

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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