Not all changes need to be of monumental proportions for museums embarking on the journey towards a sustainable future. Seemingly small shifts can have a profound impact on reducing our footprint, driving transformative change in the long run. The choice of transport crate can positively contribute to sustainable practices in a shared economy amongst museums, significantly reducing the industry’s environmental impact, as our article for Restauro ’s October issue explains.
As the global mindset slowly adapts to an ecologically less-invasive lifestyle, the word sustainability is what’s driving the green transition in every sector and industry. Museums are no exception, and when evaluating how viable current approaches are in the long-term, the environmental impact of art transport cannot be ignored. However, by sharing knowledge and resources museums can take an important step in mitigating the environmental consequences of such operations, while also underscoring the importance of working together as an industry to enhance the preservation, accessibility, and safe circulation of cultural heritage. Turtles can significantly reduce the museum industry’s footprint while still allowing the immersive experience of seeing art in person to be universal by promoting collective use over personal ownership, reducing costs and minimising waste while also offering the highest standard of protection.
The easiest advantage can be gained by producing less
In their recent publication ‘Naturally Cultural: How sustainability and culture can reinforce one another’, the Dutch Council for Culture presented their findings and recommendations for an effective green transition within the cultural sector. The report states that when considering effective measures to make an immediate difference, ‘the easiest advantage can be gained by producing less.’ The first Turtles were introduced 25 years ago as a sustainable alternative to the single-use wooden transport crates that are still rampant in art transport today. Although effective, wooden crates leave a significant footprint, being produced with materials that are at best difficult to recycle and almost always impossible to reuse. However, those same first Turtles are still being used today by some of the world’s most renowned museums.
By laying the idea to rest that an artwork’s travel requirements justify the production of disposable packaging and succeeding this with the use of Turtles, museums can take a significant step in reducing their ecological impact. The Turtle has been designed to be reused, not recycled: its lifespan of at least 25 years can easily be extended by a decade, every decade with minimal loss of original materials through a revision program that removes and replaces worn out components to be recycled. One Turtle saves at least two trees and the use of glue, foam, and other polluting materials every year, which along with the carbon credits that offset the CO2 emissions in the production process reduce the crate’s footprint with each use.
Shared economy of museums
This reuse is infinitely flexible and universal thanks to the Turtle’s corner block system, that can be tailored to fit an entire collection’s range of sizes, or even multiple artworks simultaneously. This lends itself perfectly to the concept of a shared economy by stripping art transport from the term single-use for good, while underscoring the importance of museums working together to enhance the preservation, accessibility, and above all safe circulation of their collections. Defining shared goals, guidelines, and sustainability initiatives will not only provide clarity and direction but will result in continuous learning and improvement through feedback by peers, leading to more effective adaptation and evolution of sustainability practices over time.
Sealed in its own micro-climate
Preserving cultural heritage is a big responsibility, and the standards are high. By working together museums and their collections can benefit from the expertise of others, and TURTLE’s knowledge is unparalleled when it comes to keeping art safe as sustainably as possible. Turtles have undergone extensive testing, proving the innovative technology behind their performance offers the best protection available for artwork against potential harm by external factors during transport such as shock, vibrations, temperature changes, and humidity. By packing an artwork in a Turtle, you are in fact sealing it in its own micro-climate for the duration of its journey where these potential dangers have been reduced to an absolute minimum.
Turtle as the new standard
Though the path to climate neutrality may present us with obstacles, there is low-hanging fruit along the way. Making a conscious choice to replace disposable, single-use art transport solutions with a high-quality, reusable alternative is an easy and obvious change that can have big consequences. Reusable transport crates are the only option for museums of the future looking to continue letting their collections travel, but only if these crates can offer optimal protection. By introducing the Turtle as the new standard, we are actively preventing art from being exposed to the consequences of external factors during transport and the resulting damage. This is the only truly sustainable way to move forward, because without the art there will be nothing to preserve for future generations.
Click here to read the published article in German: Grün in jeder Hinsicht