The first-ever climate museum in the US is welcoming visitors in NYC's Soho neighborhood

The museum is welcoming visitors free of charge to its pop-up exhibit.

January 13, 2024, 5:29 AM

New York's new Climate Museum may call some of the most famous fashion brands as neighbors, but the emergence of this pop-up art exhibit in the heart of Soho proves that climate activism is much more than a trend.

The prime location was intentional, Miranda Massie, director of the Climate Museum, told ABC News.

"People all across the city, across the world, shop in Soho," Massie said, touting the high foot traffic that attracts those who may identify as "climate concerned." Curiosity often leads shoppers to check out the museum, she said.

The museum is unique because it brings together two things that typically exist separately: climate advocacy and the arts.

Here's what to know about the Climate Museum:

Juxtaposition between the world's biggest emitters and the most vulnerable nations is higlighted

The exhibition begins with a look at how the climate crisis and inequality are tied on a global level.

A gray scale map of the world bearing the resemblance of an accordion flanks the museum's entrance.

The Climate Museum is located at 105 Wooster Street, in Manhattan’s trendy Soho shopping district.
ABC News

When the viewer stands on one side, they see the world's wealthiest countries, which have contributed the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions, in darker shades.

As the viewer walks to the other side of the map, another perspective is revealed through the accordion-like folds.

The map then features the nations most threatened by climate change.

"The countries that have done the least to cause the crisis are experiencing the most harm," Massie said. "And that's something that we have to address through climate reparations."

The consequences of redlining in New York City

An additional interactive map shows how redlining decisions made nearly 100 years ago continue to affect disenfranchised populations today. Redlining is the real estate practice in which housing industry officials designate certain neighborhoods as high-risk, largely due to racial demographics.

The piece involves two versions of a map of New York City.

A map shows how New York City redlining policies created in the 1930s correlate with the regions in the five boroughs that experience the hottest temperatures today.
ABC News

The bottom map shows the redlining determinations that were made in the 1930s as a result of the New Deal, when the federal government created mortgage relief programs for homeowners because of the Great Depression, Massie said.

"The regulators took a red pen and drew lines around the neighborhoods that were seen as risky for this program. In other words, risky for investment," she said.

The exhibition begins with a look at how the climate crisis and inequality are tied on a global level. Countries that emit the most emissions with the regions around the world that are most affected with climate change.
ABC News

The second map, which is translucent, then moves over the redline map, showing which neighborhoods in New York City suffer from the hottest conditions during the summer.

These neighborhoods -- which can measure up to 30 degrees hotter than the greenline zones -- line up almost perfectly with the neighborhoods that were "at-risk" in the 1930s, Massie said.

"There's an almost mathematical correspondence between those lines drawn 100 years ago and what people experienced as the heat gap today," she said.

Mural takes viewers on a journey

The transition from black and white, representing the Industrial Revolution, to color, representing the arrival of climate activism, is a recurring theme at the Climate Museum.

The theme is prominently presented in a mural that envelopes the entirety of the space's back wall.

The piece, commissioned by the museum from children's book illustrator Greg Christie, depicts the transition from a fossil fuel economy to climate justice.

The gray scale portion of the mural represents the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the extraction of fossil fuels. The mural then transitions into color, representing action by climate activists, Massie said.

The mural also evokes the transition from a black-and-white world to one in which the world's inhabitants can live together.

Sticker wall encourages climate intentions

Toward the end of the exhibit are rolls of stickers emblazoned with phrases like "I will talk about climate justice" and "I will oppose the fossil fuel industry." Blank stickers are also available for visitors to conjure up their own climate pledges.

A sticker wall that encourages visitors to state their climate action intentions has garnered thousands of stickers since the museum opened in October.
ABC News

Thousands of stickers have been placed on the wall since the museum opened in October.

Kids are especially excited to write their intentions or even create drawings on postcards addressed to lawmakers, which the museum stamps and sends, Massie said.

"When you let young people know that they have that tremendous capacity to change minds and hearts of people in power, they are galvanized by that," she said. "It is one of our greatest honors to afford them that possibility."

How to visit the Climate Museum

The museum is located at 105 Wooster Street in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood.

Admission is free. The museum is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

The exhibit in Soho will run through April 28.

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