Mystic Seaport Museum is one of four museums in the country to be recognized with a 2020 Sustainability Excellence Award, presented by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
First presented in 2014, the awards recognize sustainability efforts in facilities, programming, and exhibits in both large and small institutions. In the last five years, the award program has recognized 20 different museums for their efforts.
Mystic Seaport Museum received a Special Award of Merit for its accomplishments in eliminating single-use plastic on its entire 19-acre site. The awards jury “was impressed by the institution’s comprehensive approach: the attention paid to inculcating behavior change; addressing cost challenges; data collection and analysis; and the detailed documentation of its process,” the award announcement stated.
“The Mystic Seaport [Museum] is a powerful example that illustrates a deep dive in one sustainability topic that was consistently tackled with rigor,” said Joyce S. Lee, the Jury Chair for the Facility Award.
The Sustainability Excellence Awards, which strongly encourage museum energy benchmarking to address climate action, are sponsored by the Environment and Climate Network, a professional network of AAM members committed to establishing museums as leaders in environmental sustainability. The other museums receiving 2020 awards are the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures in Urbana, IL, the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, WA, and the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, PA.
Reducing Single-Use Plastics
In February 2019, Mystic Seaport Museum announced an initiative to work toward eliminating single-use plastics on its 19-acre site on the Mystic River. In collaboration with its reatail and food service partners, Event Network and Coastal Gourmet, the Museum implemented a long list of single-use plastic reductions in the bake shop, Museum Store, restaurants, event catering, the Sailing Center, and across the grounds, which includes elimination of plastic straws, cups, lids, takeaway containers, and bags; the addition of reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, and many other eco-friendly products in the Museum store; installation of three water bottle refill stations; promotion of noted days throughout the year such as Earth Day, Plastic Free July, World Oceans Day, and America Recycles Day, and many other efforts.