Climate Control, Manchester Museum

A successful temporary exhibition as one that you come away from still thinking about it. Maybe it makes you aware of a specific topic or maybe you go away asking more questions. It’s overall a thought provoking experience. Introducing the fabulous little exhibition at Manchester Museum on Climate Change, it’s really quite a clever temporary exhibition.

Climate Control Entrance Doors

Black and white are excellent contrasting colours and the palette that the small exhibition is focused around. At the entrance to the exhibition, alongside the initial introduction panel which is supported by a fairly lovely quote on an astronaut’s view of the world from space, are a choice of two doorways; one black and labelled as the past, one white and representing the future. I went through the ‘past’ door figuring that I would cover the topic in chronological order . . . only to find both doors lead to the same room which was further divided into black and white – clever, huh.

The room has a long wall in the middle, one side painted white the other black, but the wall is not just a backdrop, it’s an engagement tool. The white side of the wall on the past side of the room asks for people to stick black stickers on to it in order to represent their carbon footprint – the side of the wall facing the white area of the future is black but asks for people to stick white stickers onto it with ideas written on them about what people felt they could do to help the climate. The effect was a very pleasing black/white contrast created by people engaging with the topic.

Climate Control Past

The black past area displayed a cleverly selected number of museum objects, from black fossils to a white polar bear, in keeping with the black and white colour scheme. Alongside these objects were facts about climate change and images that showed the effects of climate change in different parts of the world. The key object for the exhibition and the motif used in advertising is the peppered moth, a creature that is visually effected by the conditions it lives in. In a clean environment it is white with a few black speckles, but when the air is polluted completely black mutations appear – the black/white cleverness continues!

The ‘Future’ side is very object sparse, but for what it lacks in objects it makes up for in engagements. Visitors are asked what they might to do help look after the planet. But the exhibition does not stop in the temporary exhibition space, it carries on into the museum in the Life Gallery, where 10 ways to make a difference are presented alongside tubs with questions in which you can leave tokens to indicate if you feel you could help in any way even if just a little. The use of basic interactives rather than complicated technology makes interaction clear, simple and in fitting with the theme.

The consistency is impressive and very well thought through and the high contrast between the black and white not only allows the selection of striking, theme related objects, but means the readability of text is increased. It is, by its own admittance very ‘blue sky thinking’, but it comes across as a good way for parents to introduce these important themes and ideas to their children, as well as giving adults some facts about Climate Change – I for one loved learning about the Peppered Moth!

It’s on from the 11 May – 4 September 2016 and is free, which give you the opportunity to see this little gem at the Manchester Museum for yourself.


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