January 6, 2017
Not An Alternative is a New York-based collective and nonprofit organization that works at the intersection of art, activism and pedagogy to affect popular understandings of events, symbols, institutions and history. Through engaged critical research and design, the group curates and produces interventions on material and immaterial space, bringing together tools from art, architecture, exhibition design and political organizing. Thanks to support from Voqal, Not an Alternative was able to partner with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services to bring its Natural History Museum exhibit to Houston to educate residents about the impacts of relying on fossil fuels.
The Natural History Museum is a new museum that offers exhibitions, expeditions, educational workshops and public programming. Unlike traditional natural history museums, it makes a point to include and highlight the social and political forces that shape nature. These forces include those affecting the atmospheric climate on Earth, as well as the funding climate within museums of science and natural history.
In Houston, its exhibit and public events reached 6000 people, connecting the African-American, Latinx and broader art/activist communities. Beyond deconstructing displays and narratives in the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, it also modeled what science museums should be doing: educating the public about environmental justice issues and amplifying the voices and concerns of the communities they serve. The exhibit was cited on panels at museum conferences this year and the program director for the American Alliance of Museums’ convention invited Not An Alternative to collaborate in 2017. Furthermore, not only did the Houston Chronicle run an editorial about the exhibition that affirmed the need for industry regulation, but also it ran a front-page story about climate science censorship in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Not An Alternative’s partnership with Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services to bring this important work to the Houston area saw immediate results and should continue to help put a spotlight on climate change and the need for more education around the issue by mainstream institutions like the Houston Museum of Natural Science. As a strong believer in a more educated and empowered public, Voqal is proud to have supported this effort and looks forward to the continued work of Not an Alternative and its partners to continue to highlight this issue both in Texas and nationwide.