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  1. It’s a weird thing to celebrate a new museum’s LEED certification for its “green” building, when such a huge swath of precious greenspace in a densely populated area (NOVA) was denuded of trees and vegetation for the construction of a new building with large open lawns and plenty of brand new black surface parking lots to soak up that hot Virginia sun.

    Yes, the Army needed a national museum, but is this really representative of “greening” the DMV? When I visited opening week in 2020, the whole project seemed overblown and empty. Including the gift shop, which seemed way too big for its needs.

    1. Thank you. Since this is focusing on retail and merchandizing, these are good discussion to be had with a larger group including the owner. With COVID, the retail landscape, inside or outside of museums, is also rapidly evolving too.

  2. I find it amusing that the articles suggests throwing out perfectly good items, such as plastic hangers, bins and signage and replacing them with recyclable/reusable materials. By disposing of such items it is needlessly creating the very disposable society the article is meant to highlight.
    Many of the store fixtures, although not the best, can be used for years when cared for and then sold or given away to other businesses to extend their lifecycle rather than creating the wanton waste suggested. Maybe the writer should make the suggestion as one when moving forward.

    1. Laura to your observation of the store being too large, I have to stress that determining the proper size for the retail EARLY in the design process based on attendance projection is critical to successful retail for any new project. I have been involved in projects where we have both expanded stores that were initially woefully undersized and projects where we have decreased the original retail footprint. Building more store than you need causes a domino effect on many levels like initial cost, conditioning and maintenance, staffing, amount of stock investment… With any new project it is crucial to get it right the first time.

      Jennifer, you too make excellent points!
      In my experience of designing cultural retail spaces, a sensitive refresh rather than a wholesale renovation can often do wonders for existing stores while minimizing wastefulness and investment. I have been involved with several “light touch” updates where editing and refinishing of existing fixtures, correcting elements both visual and operational that have become muddled over time and the refocusing of staff has done wonders to the store’s look and operation. Discarded fixtures or display items have been repurposed for stock rooms or storage spaces, or have been offered to local groups or institutions for worthwhile second lives. The result is an ecologically sensitive solution that is both a more cost effective investment for the institution and produces a store that delivers the intended increased revenue goals.

    2. Thanks for flagging it – the swapping part means they can be donated to organizations, not thrown out. Hangers may ultimately not needed with smart display. The Waste/Materials section of LEED actually strongly discourages disposal and encourages reuse and recycling. There are % metrics to strive towards. We are totally on the same page. We will see if some edits would convey that message more strongly. Thank you.

    3. Absolutely! We agree, and did not intend to suggest “throwing out” materials by using the word “replace”. In fact, repurposing, refurbishing, reclaiming, donating, and continuing to use perfectly good items elsewhere are all better alternatives to discarding. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify!

  3. Thank you for this lens on retail aspects of museum work and addressing the powerful message that can be sent by integrating sustainable museum practices. Museums committed to sustainability can go beyond educational programs and exhibitions that explore these issues and integrate sustainability into internal operations and behind-the-scene actions and principles. Our museum has taken steps in this direction by offering fair trade and sustainable items with great success. We have also made it a priority to integrate sustainability into our fundraising efforts, from sourcing local food and wine to green event certification.

  4. It was helpful to see specific examples and actionable ideas. We usually read about big picture goals (also very important) when it comes to sustainability, so I appreciate seeing both here. Thanks!

  5. The ceiling in the first photo looks amazing! Museums have the unique challenge of curating a compelling visual experience while educating, so it must be especially challenging to incorporate sustainability. Would love to see more sustainability in smaller, local museums.

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