The Guggenheim, across its constellation of museums in New York, Bilbao, Venice, and Abu Dhabi, is committed to a future-focused, comprehensive, and adaptive approach to sustainability, embedded in strategy, operations, and culture. In February 2023, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York appointed Whitney McGuire as Associate Director of Sustainability, through the generous support of the JPB foundation. In this new, full-time role, McGuire will bolster the implementation of a sustainability plan through collaboration and cross-disciplinary dialogue with the institution’s various departments.
Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, comments, “We recognize the impact of museums on the environment, and we must remain adaptable and accountable as we endeavor to develop solutions and understand our place in creating a greener path forward. At the Guggenheim, we have a dedicated staff and board committed to this issue, and we are proud that Whitney McGuire now brings to us her significant experience in sustainability and community building at the intersections of law, education, and culture.”
McGuire will lead the Green Team, a group of twenty-five employees from across departments that over the past three years, has implemented a holistic, iterative, and collective strategy developed by Alexa Steiner, founder of Rute Collaborative, addressing systemic challenges and incorporating sustainability into institutional practices. Notable accomplishments include ensuring construction and exhibition waste has an 89% average diversion rate from landfill, transitioning to LED lighting, and launching an organics program for the café with Restaurant Associates, the museum’s catering partner. Sustainability at the Guggenheim is supported and championed through the generosity of Wendy Fisher, President of the Board of Trustees, and the Kirsh Foundation.
Among its significant recent initiatives, in 2022, the museum completed a carbon emission study of the exhibition Cecilia Vicuña: Spin Spin Triangulene, which is the most comprehensive report of its kind to date in North America. Through the study, done in consultation with Vicuña and with the assistance of nonprofit environmental initiative Art into Acres, the carbon emissions generated by exhibition-related activities were tracked and calculated to understand their complex nature. The goal is to use the report’s learnings to share, iterate, and develop strategies to reduce future carbon emissions impact. Additionally, the Guggenheim is supporting land conservation and reforestation projects in Chile, Vicuña’s home country.
In celebration of Earth Day, the museum will host The World Around’s annual summit and its first Young Climate Prize, recognizing twenty-five extraordinary minds from diverse backgrounds under the age of twenty-five who are working to combat climate change. These climate pioneers will take part in a mentorship program and design academy, ultimately presenting their projects at the museum. Three winners will be celebrated during the summit, held on April 22.
The Guggenheim and The World Around will also co-host Late Shift x The Young Climate Prize, a ticketed public program on Friday, April 21. The evening will highlight the projects by the Young Climate Prize finalists, and guests will have the opportunity to view short films about the projects, listen to talks between design champions, participate in sustainable artmaking activities, embark on self-guided tours of the museum’s iconic architecture and exhibitions, and connect with the finalists as well as other guests.
To support the launch of its New York Chapter, and McGuire’s participation as a member of its founding committee, the Guggenheim is honored to host a gathering of the Gallery Climate Coalition (GCC) on April 21. The GCC is an international community of arts organizations working to reduce the sector’s environmental impacts, with over eight hundred members worldwide.
To learn more, visit the Guggenheim Museum’s sustainability page.
Updates from Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, following its 2021 carbon footprint measurement that has included all indirect CO2 emissions originating from exhibition programming and the recent implementation of more flexible climate control parameters for works of art, has presented the environmental sustainability action plan for 2023. The new plan includes initiatives such as recycled uniforms for staff serving visitors, the installation of charging posts for electric vehicles and photovoltaic panels at both the main building and off-site storage facility, and the development of several public programs, courses, and seminars throughout the year, with the institutional goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030.
In March, 2023 the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice began a sustainability study, conducted by Metroeconomica, a company based in Spain, which specializes in economic analysis, public policy, environment, climate change, and green finance. The proposed analysis focuses first on the environmental sustainability of the museum. This consists of calculating a number of indicators of environmental pressure arising from the museum’s activities and its contribution to the state of the environment. A second stage of this analysis will consider economic sustainability. Furthermore, in line with its ongoing commitment to preventive and sustainable conservation, the museum is taking part in GREEN ART, a project promoted by the European Union, which develops new solutions based on ecological and sustainable materials and methods to preserve works of art.
Looking Ahead to Guggenheim Abu Dhabi
Designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is an environmentally friendly building created with sustainability in mind. Sustainability features include recycled water through condensate capture and reuse, passive design and cool building strategies, the use of sustainable materials in the building of the museum and the design of outdoor spaces for thermal comfort and protection against extreme climate.
Currently under development, the building is expected to obtain a 3 out of 5 rating as part of the ‘Pearl Rating System’ under Abu Dhabi’s Estidama program. The Pearl Rating System is a green building rating system that is utilised to evaluate sustainable building development practices in Abu Dhabi.
Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is part of the broader Guggenheim constellation of architecturally and culturally distinct museums, offering a unique context where art is in conversation with architecture. The museum is located on the prominent western-facing tip of the Saadiyat Cultural District, on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.