Science Museum Tips: On Creating Sustainable Exhibits

UPDATE: ExhibitSEED does not appear to be a working website any longer.


This is an extended version of an article that appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of ASTC’s Dimensions magazine


Create exhibits that go “beyond green,” by considering economic, social, and environmental aspects of sustainability. It can sometimes be helpful to focus your attention on the decision-making process itself, not just the outcome. For example, ask yourself, “How can I (choose materials, host an advisory meeting, etc.) more sustainably?” Then, think about all of the economic, social, and environmental ramifications, and choose the option with the most benefits.

Visit for tools and resources including:

  • Sustainable practices: Practical tips for incorporating social, economic, and environmental considerations into each phase of exhibit development: proposal writing, project management, content research and development, design, prototyping and visitor testing, production, evaluation, and end-life.
  • Decision-making tool: An activity to use with your team, intended to inspire a well-rounded conversation that leads teams to decisions that consider all three aspects of sustainability.
  • The Green Exhibit Checklist: A tool to evaluate the environmental sustainability of exhibits. It awards points in five key strategies for reducing the environmental impact of exhibit production, plus a sixth category for innovation.
  • Material guide: An online guide that was created to help exhibit designers and builders choose materials that are better for the environment, visitors, and workers, and that make economic sense.
  • Case studies: Individual case studies of how museums are integrating the three pillars of sustainability into their operations.
  • Envisioning Sustainability: An activity designed to help teams explore the concept of sustainability.

Contact OMSI at (503) 797-4658 to arrange for a training workshop or for more information on sustainable exhibits.


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