Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Dr. Cynthia Conides

First Reader

Dr. Cynthia Conides

Second Reader

Renee Pratt


As the world continues to be affected by the rapid rates of climate change, institutions from every sector are transitioning to become more sustainable by reducing or eliminating their harmful habits on the ecosystem. Whether by their own accord or external pressure from current legislative action to cut carbon emissions, institutions are shifting towards a sustainable future. For museums there are additional unique reasons to adopt sustainability into various aspects with their institution. The most influential reason is that museums have a responsibility as community leaders and change makers. However, looming questions remain: Are museums doing enough? Are these cultural hubs willing improve to comply with new sustainability standards? What is preventing museums from pursing these goals? This paper aims to obtain the answers to the previous questions through extensive research on sustainability in museums as it pertains to daily operations and physical structures and investigating three museums within Buffalo, New York.

This research began with defining the term sustainability, its history, and current events that is creating this need for sustainable actions. It transitions to provide numerous sustainability practices, technologies, and programs that museums across the country have successfully implemented. I reveal my findings from interviews conducted with employees from three different museums. I provide a critique for these institutions whilst comparing them to museums nationwide and give potential suggestions on how they can improve their sustainability efforts. The purpose of this study is to hold these institutions accountable and to inspire new and creative ways to become more environmentally conscious. My hope for this research is to encourage the reader to investigate their local museums’ sustainable efforts and collaborate on possible solutions.