Timothy J. McNeil – research / practice


About Time – greening exhibition design

Natural Resources Defense Council’s Santa Monica Environmental Action Center, 2003

Greening museums, environmental sustainability, and responsible/ethical exhibition design practices have been a focus of my research since I designed the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Santa Monica Environmental Action Center in 2003. At that time, this project held the distinction as the first “green” exhibition and interpretive center in the nations “greenest” LEED platinum certified building. I then went on to chair the California Association of Museums Green Museum Initiative resulting in IGNITE a California statewide initiative to alert museums to the future perils of climate change and how they could communicate this to their visitors, co-founded the Green Museums Accord and the American Alliance of Museum’s first committee on environmental sustainability, and was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame.

Research projects in the UC Davis Design Museum explored sustainable materials, reuse, design for disassembly, and communicated our green practices to visitors. We even developed an early resource website that amalgamated the little information about this topic that existed 20 years ago. Today, it’s satisfying to see the increased number of sustainability and climate action resources available to museum and exhibition designers—you might say it’s too little too late but “about time.”

Check out these new resources:

Exhibition design for our time: A guide to reducing the environmental impact of exhibitions. The Design Museum London

Mindful Materials. Take the Museum Materials Pledge

Sustainable Exhibition Design & Construction Toolkit. CambridgeSeven