Skip to content

Four Museums Recognized for Sustainability by American Alliance of Museums

Category: Press Release


July 10, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA  Four museums have been recognized with the 2017 Sustainability Excellence Award (SEA), presented by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community.

Started in 2014, the award recognizes sustainability efforts in facilities, programming, and exhibits in both large and small institutions. In the last four years, the award has recognized 17 museums across nine US states and two museums in Mexico. This year’s recipients include:

  • The National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution) won in the large museum facilities category for its efforts from 2011-2016 as part of the LEED Existing Building re-certification process. The museum reduced indoor water usage by 18.6 percent, irrigation by 68.97 percent, and energy use by 21 percent compared to its historical average, among other reductions in waste generated and power consumed.
  • The Sustainability Studio at Balboa Park Cultural Partnership won in the small museum exhibits category. The free pop-up exhibit, designed to engage and educate the public about sustainability efforts, was made of recycled and repurposed materials and reached nearly 1,500 visitors over three months in the 1,200 acre Balboa Park in San Diego.
  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a “museum without walls” presented each summer in Washington, DC, won in the large museum programming category. From 2014 to 2016, the festival reduced the landfill-bound percentage of its waste from 7 percent to 4 percent, with corresponding gains in composting and recycling.
  • The Field Museum in Chicago received honorable mention in the large museum programming category for its Sustainable Food Operator program, which after two years of operation has achieved a 74 percent waste diversion rate. Also, 44 percent of the museum’s menu is vegetarian-friendly, 18 percent of its foods meet sustainability criteria, and five percent of its food is local.

The awards are sponsored by PIC Green, a professional network of AAM members committed to establishing museums as leaders in environmental sustainability. Recipients were recognized in a ceremony May 8 at the AAM 2017 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in St. Louis.

“The Sustainability Excellence Award is an opportunity to share stories from museums at all stages of sustainability,” said Shengyin Xu, SEA team member. “Whether it is a small museum with sustainability baked into strategic planning, a historic site engaging visitors through programming, or a large museum that built a new high-performance facility, there are lessons to learn from each story.”

Skip over related stories to continue reading article

Read more about the Sustainability Excellence Awards and recipients.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Press Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations Phone: 202-218-7670

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.