Can Art Help People Feel The Devastation Of Climate Change?

Miranda Massie hopes the Climate Museum in New York City can convince visitors to be better stewards of the climate—by appealing at once to their intellect and their emotions.

The idea for the museum came to Massie in 2012. That year, Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, where she was living at the time. The storm was of record proportions, flooding much of Lower Manhattan and making real in the minds of many New Yorkers just how devastating the effects of climate change could be.

"After Sandy I knew I had to do something," Massie says.

Massie's Climate Museum­­­—whose board of trustees and staff plan to start looking in several years for a permanent home in New York City—is only the second of its kind in the world (the first is in Hong Kong). Its purpose, she says, is to educate people about the effects of climate change through exhibits and public programs that appeal as much to emotion as to intellect.

"One of the best trial lawyers I learned from when I was practicing civil rights law told me that the way to focus a jury's mind was through the heart," Massie says. "You have to create space for the major emotions—from fear and anger over to amusement, hope, and even love."

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Photo: Arash Fewzee

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