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NEH Funds Energy Efficient Cold Storage Project at the History Center

MNHS is proud to have received our second NEH grant for energy efficient cold storage (press release)!  This NEH Sustaining Cultural Heritage Implementation Grant will allow us to implement the recommendations from our interdisciplinary study on energy efficient cold storage.  In 2012, NEH awarded a Sustaining Cultural Heritage Planning grant to the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) to conduct an interdisciplinary study that balanced issues of long-term preservation for film materials.  These issues included preservation metrics, potential energy use, cost for maintenance, as well as investment cost for any recommended system or building upgrades.  At the conclusion of the study in 2014, the interdisciplinary team reduced the broader set of options into a cohesive set of recommendations that include building improvements and specific upgrades of equipment.  When implemented, these recommendations would produce a colder and drier environment that helps preserve film materials longer while concurrently reducing the energy required to sustain that environment.  

New Kelley Farm Visitor Center will be a LEED Gold and B3 Sustainable Building

The Minnesota Historical Society will utilize USGBC’s LEED Green Building Design and Construction Certification system as a way to support the mission of the Oliver Kelley Farm:

“...interpret the history of family farms, Kelley Family, and MN’s agriculture past, present and future to nurture an understanding of where our food comes from and agriculture’s image on our world...”

LEED supports this by guiding an environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable infrastructure to deliver this outcome.  It is also responsible for significant market transformation in sustainable building, and is often recognized by general audiences as well as those in the construction industry.  In particular, the team is targeting Gold certification (of Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels).  

Meet Dan Hansen: From Entomologist to Environmentalist

Last week, I was lucky enough to interview Dan Hansen about waste reduction and sustainable operations. Dan is the facilities maintenance technician at the Mill City Museum, however, his passion and experiences in natural history and sustainability go far beyond this job title. You can tell from a glimpse of his exquisite worldwide insects collection and his wide range of reusable materials storage at his workshop.

Our New Sustainability Intern

Hi everyone, I’m Yixuan (pronounced as “E-Shwan”) Cai. I’m the new sustainability intern here at Minnesota Historical Society. In the following weeks, I’ll work with Shengyin to develop our More for the Mission campaigns. I’m looking forward to learning how museums address sustainability issues and making voices for sustainability heard. Since I’ll post a few entries here in the following weeks, maybe you want to know a little bit about me!

Energy-Efficient Cold Storage Recent Publications

Our NEH-funded Energy-Efficient Cold Storage study has been picking up a lot of attention at recent professional conferences!  We presented to mixed crowds at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the American Institute for Conservation (AIC).  In the fall, we plan to publish an article in the International Association for Museum Facility Administrators (IAMFA) journal - Papyrus.  In the meantime, catch up on the materials we have already shared: 

Sustainability General Session at American Institute for Conservation in Miami

Our energy-efficient cold-storage project was presented to a small group of about 40-50 attendees of the American Institute for Conservation Annual Meeting.  This year's meeting theme was "Practical Philosophy or Making Conservation Work." Sustainability was one of three general session tracks along with practical philosophy and Year of Light.  

American Alliance of Museums 2015 Annual Meeting Green Recap

Did you go to AAM Atlanta 2015 this year?  This year’s AAM Annual Meeting theme, “The Social Value of Museums: Inspiring Change,” had an inspirational message about the role of museums in inclusivity and social engagement.  Sustainability has a role in this as well since it is often defined as a holistic approach to social, environmental, and economic issues.   This was well demonstrated with several sessions and events at this year’s AAM event.  Here is a quick recap and report out of the green events and sessions!  

New Book Features Minnesota Historical Society’s Sustainability Program

This spring (2015), the MNHS Sustainability program was featured in Environmental Sustainability at Historic Sites and Museums by Sarah Sutton.  Shengyin Xu and Matt Hill contributed to the mini-case study titled “Minnesota Historical Society, Dynamic Data and Real-Time Sustainability.”  The piece describes the Society’s use of data and metrics for both decision-making and communication and highlights the importance of sustainability for history organizations.  

Sharing Economy Gaining Momentum



In an increasingly consumptive world, the sharing economy and collaborative consumption are gaining momentum as ways to live more sustainably.  Also known as peer-to-peer marketplaces, collaborative consumption hinges on networks established to facilitate goods, skills, and services trading amongst neighbors.  Touted as a way to save money, live more sustainably, and strengthen community bonds, these sharing networks are quickly gaining popularity.  

Fossil Free and Fossil Fuel Divestment

Due to increased public awareness and pressure on natural resources, sustainability initiatives are slowly evolving into mainstream priorities for countless institutions, organizations, and even governments.  Groups have adopted sustainability practices, invested in new technologies, and integrated them into their everyday operations.  Recycling bins, energy efficient light fixtures, and efficient building plans are all on the way up.