Green Wins for Earth Day

27 Feb 2023

By Lib Fox, Project Coordinator

Our team are always looking for ways to be a bit greener so, with Earth Day coming up on Saturday 22nd April, we wanted to share some of the highlights from the last year.


Packing up Ipswich Museum

Since Ipswich Museum closed in October 2022, we have been steadily packing up all the objects on display. The museum housed items of all shapes and sizes, which led staff to devise a variety of solutions that were both environmentally friendly and cost-saving.

For example, cardboard carpet rollers were salvaged from a local business that would normally discard them. Covered with aluminium foil to stop any acid leeching, and wrapped in acid free tissue, the repurposed rollers are now safely storing large scale textiles.


A colour photograph showing a purple and grey striped piece of fabric partially wrapped around a tube.
A colour photograph showing a white man kneeling beside a large model of a shop inside a crate. The man is giving a thumbs up and smiling at the camera.


Some objects required bespoke crates to be made, so the team recycled timber from old display units and false walls.


Family Activities

In both Colchester and Ipswich the school holidays often mean craft activities inspired by our collections. We love making use of recycled and recyclable materials, especially when the finished product is a nod to the natural world!


A colour photograph of the Listening tree at Colchester's Natural History Museum. The tree is about a metre high, white and covered in multi coloured leaves.
A colour photograph showing a white hand holding up a dafodill made from cardboard.


At Colchester’s Natural History Museum, we introduced a Listening Tree, for our youngest visitors to fill with comments and drawings. The tree hadn’t worked as a shop display feature, so was repurposed and is now a popular part of the museum. We even have a selection of laminated leaves that can be used over and over, to reduce paper waste.

In Ipswich, materials that could no longer be used after the Museum closed were donated to a local grassroots arts group.


Exhibitions and Displays

Due to limited budgets and storage space, our Exhibitions team routinely look for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. With the exhibition, Landscape Rebels, that ethos was particularly important.

we reused 7 plinths and display cases, including the big centre plinth which you may recognise from the Power of Stories exhibition. We reused benches, screws, mirror plates, barriers, frames and risers and display stands. Anything we did make, we made using recycled materials such as the shelves which display the Ogilvie birds and the mountboard used to display the turtle. These were both made using off-cuts of wood taken from previous exhibitions…. Our large-scale vinyls, including the large-scale Walton Bridges, is printed on a non-PVC material that is 100% fully recyclable. Similarly, all our object labels have been produced on a paper-based vinyl that is also 100% recyclable.”


A colour photograph of the Landscape Rebels exhibition at Christchurch Mansion. There are costumes on a plinth and framed artworks mounted on dark walls.


One of the benefits of being a joint service is we can share resources between our museums. Display cases that used to live in Ipswich will soon feature in the upcoming Gladiators: A Day At The Roman Games exhibition in Colchester. Last year, when neither side had need of some storage units, we found new homes for them among fellow heritage organisations. Recently, things we couldn’t reuse or rehome were donated to Urban Xtreme’s Rage Room, where they’ll be smashed to pieces and recycled!


A colour photograph of a white woman dismantling a rail for hanging clothes on
A colour photograph of a young white woman and an older white man moving a set of tall grey lockers
A colour photograph of an older white male holding a tall, silver up lamp


As well as the big exhibitions, our museums get dressed up for things like Christmas. Last year, our friends at the Visitor Information Centre rescued some unwanted decorations from a well-known, upmarket department store, proving you don’t have to buy new to make something look magical.


Where will your adventure start?