A national museum recycling network, Museum Freecycle UK, was launched today to encourage the recycling and reuse of exhibition build elements between museums by Urban Salon and the Freecycle Network. The launch coincides with UK Recycle Week. Museum Freecycle UK is the first industry-wide and national Freecycle network created since Freecycle was founded in Tucson, Arizona in 2003.
The idea was floated in an article by Alex Mowat, Creative Director of Urban Salon in Design Week two weeks ago and received such a positive response, that Urban Salon went on to work with the Freecycle Network to set up the online portal. The group is being run by Urban Salon with the support of SHARE Museums East and The Collections Trust.
The site was set up to boost the sustainability of temporary exhibitions which by their nature involve a lot of waste. Exhibitions are in a state of constant change and the materials, showcases and displays end up in a skip even though they are reusable. While the reuse of build items between individual museums is happening, this has tended to be ad hoc and time-consuming for the donor museum.
The portal, Museum Freecycle UK offers museums an online tool, which enables them to recycle their showcases and other exhibition build items for free. The network connects museums that are discarding setworks from temporary exhibitions and those looking for new elements helping to boost sustainability and reduce costs within the sectors.
‘As exhibition designers, we are only too aware of the waste that temporary exhibitions generate. Museum Freecycle UK provides a simple online tool to help us make exhibition build budgets go further, create more engaging experiences for museum visitors and reduce waste. We are delighted that the idea for a Museum Freecycle has had such a positive response. Museum Freecycle UK is the first industry-wide and national Freecycle group created. We will learn as we go. We look forward to working with the museum sector to evolve the network and to continue to help museums reuse materials.’
Caroline Keppel-Palmer, managing director, Urban Salon
'Like all the best ideas, Museum Freecycle is brilliantly simple. It will be great to be able to recycle equipment we no longer need and to have a convenient source for items from other museums across the UK.'
Heather Lane, Keeper at The Polar Museum, University of Cambridge