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3 Eco-Friendly Museums in the Midwest

3 Eco-Friendly Museums in the Midwest

When temperatures drop, skip the slopes and spend the afternoon inside. And what better indoor activity is there than exploring a museum? If you live in or are traveling to Ohio, Indiana or Illinois, grab the family and head to one of these museums this winter. In addition to offering rotating exhibits, each museum prioritizes eco-friendliness.


Indianapolis Museum of Art: Indianapolis, IN

The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is unique in the fact that it is the first art museum in the country with an ENERGY STAR® certification for its sustainability efforts. The museum has also been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy – both government-established programs – for its eco-friendly initiatives. Plus, nearly a decade ago, the IMA joined the Central Indiana Clean Air Partnership for its commitments to improving air quality in the community.

Running on 100% renewable energy sources, including wind, solar and biomass generation, the IMA has reduced its annual electricity costs by nearly 18% since 2005. Additionally, the museum’s waste reduction programs have contributed to recycling nearly 25,000 pounds of paper, aluminum and plastic.


The Field Museum: Chicago, IL

Located in the heart of Chicago, IL, even the name of The Field Museum evokes a sense of eco-friendliness. In 1989, this Windy City museum launched an in-house, grassroots “green team” – a group of individuals dedicated to exploring new ways for the museum to lessen its overall impact on the environment. Since then, the group has grown to a team of roughly 40 members who are working toward making The Field Museum eco-friendly in all areas.

Today, many of the museum’s operations run in a very environmentally conscious way. From its onsite restaurants that achieve a 74% waste diversion rate by recycling and composting to its Gold LEED certification, most of what the museum does has a green bent. However, the most prolific of the museum’s projects is its staff-maintained garden, Edible Treasures, which helps teach residents about the importance of community and healthy living.


Toledo Museum of Art: Toledo, OH

The Toledo Museum of Art is a few steps ahead of many other museums in the region when it comes to employing eco-friendly initiatives. Nearly 30 years ago, the museum replaced all of its traditional gallery lighting with 135 LED bulbs to illuminate art displays.

Over the past 15 years, the Toledo Museum of Art has installed a total of four microturbines on its campus. Collectively producing more than 250 kW of electricity, these microturbines burn natural gas and help power the museum without negatively impacting the environment. Plus, the museum recently installed solar panels on the roofs of its buildings that can store 360kW of solar energy per day. Thanks to these initiatives, the museum is capable of generating roughly 15% of its own electricity, significantly cutting costs.

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