TRVST is really excited to have been given the opportunity to feature the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change (MoCC) on our platform. The museum is the first of its kind and aims to start important conversations and encourage positive behaviours in reaction to climate change.
The museum actually has a big reason to celebrate, they are about to welcome their one millionth visitor later this month which is an amazing achievement!
We had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew Pang, Senior Manager at the Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Office to learn more about a truly inspirational initiative.
Q: What was the inspiration behind starting the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change?
The idea of a climate change museum was first contemplated in 2010. Dr Rebecca Lee, a local explorer, required a location to house a collection of items acquired from her many years of fieldwork in the Arctic, Antarctic and around Mount Everest.
Her collection helped to tell a story about our climate. It was at this point that the idea for a climate change museum came about; these items should be shared and to help to raise awareness of the threats posed by global warming.
In December 2013, with the support of a generous donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the MoCC was established on The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s campus. The museum is led by Mrs Cecilia Lam who is the Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Office, and Chief Sustainability Officer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Q: Why is the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change important?
Hong Kong is a city, which, like many others, needs to reduce carbon emissions. Yet the problem is that people in Hong Kong, and particularly young people, are not generally aware of the issues associated with climate change. Many have learnt about the science behind global warming, but do not understand that individual actions and choices contribute to the problem.
We want the museum to bridge this knowledge gap and help young people to make the connection between their own actions and associated consequences. We aren’t just a museum that people visit once and that’s the end of the experience. We continue to embed our message by working directly with schools to deliver engaging programmes which encourage young people to make sustainable, thoughtful choices. The learning is always interactive; students are encouraged to think about the problems, and to design campaigns and solutions to help raise awareness about climate change.
The museum believes that nurturing the next generation is the key to achieving a sustainable future. We’ve recently initiated an SDG Ambassadorship programme for local secondary school students which is designed to improve their understanding of the SDGs and how they address the global challenges facing us. It provides students with the opportunity to develop a strong sense of responsible global citizenship, voice their ideas for the advancement of SDGs, and become change agents in their own communities.
Q: What does the museum hope to achieve?
The museum’s mission is to educate the public about the potential impacts of the global climate crisis and to promote climate action in the community. The more people we reach, the more we achieve our goal. That’s why we’re so pleased to have almost reached such an important milestone of one million visitors, because that’s how many people we’ve delivered the message to. We encourage each visitor to spread the message to family and friends too.
Before the museum was established, there was no accessible platform available for the government, professional bodies, interest groups or investors to discuss the way that communities could tackle the issues of climate change. The museum now provides an informative and reliable platform for these conversations to take place.
Q: Climate change is a very emotive subject and one that many may find difficult to acknowledge. How do you make a subject that can be challenging more appealing?
We have realised that the key way to engage people about climate change is to personalise the experience. It’s important for every visitor to feel as though they have connected to our message. The museum is not just an exhibition, but a story which our visitors can be part of. This inclusive approach means that people are encouraged to make changes to their own lifestyles. Practical, real experiences are important, for example asking students to examine the types of items being discarded in school rubbish bins, can help to create relatable examples that young people can identify with and understand.
To provide additional encouragement, accomplishments recorded are recognised through a progressive e-badge scheme, which motivates commitment and guides development in terms of environmental stewardship.
We have future plans to further our work with secondary schools to understand more about the feelings and impressions that both students and teachers are left with following a visit to the museum. This will help us to continue to build a personalised experience for visitors.
Q: Can you tell us a little more about the extended activities the museum offers?
The museum has a number of exciting initiatives set up to help stimulate the imagination of young people. It’s important to remember that everyone is at a different stage of their journey when it comes to climate change.
We cater for all of these stages, a few inspiring examples include:
The HKJC Green Gallery, which presents initiatives that have helped stimulate new thinking on how to protect the environment in the local community. Our ‘Waste Reduction Project’ seeks to increase awareness among young people of Hong Kong’s waste problem and the need for environmentally sustainable waste management.
The ‘Zero Waste, No Disgrace’ exhibition illustrates Hong Kong’s resource consumption and waste generation patterns, and showcases the outcomes of the ‘Waste Reduction Project’. The ‘Living Greener’ virtual exhibition explores the relationship between everyday life and today’s pressing global climate issues.
Our Sustainability Hub offers a wide range of educational outreach materials that are being constantly updated to inspire individuals to take action to change their behaviour and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The Sustainability Hub is complemented by the Action Monitor which is an online tool to encourage individuals to set their own green targets.
Q: What advice would you give to other countries also looking to start a climate change museum?
It’s important to share information about climate change in a way that doesn’t simply tell people what to do. The museum has developed a well designed programme and platform which sparks inspiration and encourages people to share the message with their friends and family.
We are keen to personalise each visitor’s experience of climate change. We don’t say goodbye when visitors leave, it’s the start of an ongoing relationship. Messaging needs to be clear and easy to digest with tangible changes that each individual can make without feeling overwhelmed.
Q What impact has Covid had on the museum?
Like other cultural institutions around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected the MoCC’s operations, causing temporary closure and rescheduling or cancellation of events and exhibitions. We reacted quickly by enhancing digital offerings and making sure that virtual exhibitions, video workshops, online talks and ‘work from home’ student activities were all possible.
The people who visit the museum, and the university students who work there are our real assets, as they are part of the whole engaging experience. Whilst the online Virtual Tour will continue, we are really looking forward to opening our doors back up to the public.
Q: What do you hope visitors will take away from their visit?
We want each visitor to take away one thing that they can do to make a positive change in their daily lives. It doesn’t matter how simple or small, it’s about a shift in mindset. We encourage visitors to spread the word by letting friends and family know what changes they have made.
Q: Any future plans for the museum?
It’s important for the museum to stay current and react to the scientific assessment reports administered by the IPCC. These reports provide new findings and prompt new discussions which are reflected in the museum content.
We’re also looking to extend our school education programmes to businesses as well, providing them with guidance on how to make positive changes to their business operations. By targeting businesses, we will be looking to make an even larger impact in our society today.
As we are reaching the milestone of one million visitors, we would like to take the opportunity to thank our mentors, friends and supporters. The congratulatory messages we have received will be shared on a dedicated webpage and on our social media pages, as a reminder to all of us of the importance of, and the need for, collaborative climate action to create a sustainable future.
Main Photo by AYLİN GÖRAL on Unsplash