Museum Freecycle: a treasure trove for museums

The Museum Freecycle project continues to grow and now has over 450 members from across the UK taking part in the scheme. Created in June 2014, Museum Freecycle helps museums to dispose of unwanted items such as exhibition furniture, display cases and office equipment through reuse by advertising items on its Freecycle based website.

Since it began, the scheme has helped to forge hundreds of mutually beneficial relationships across the whole UK museum sector and has prevented hundreds of museum items from reaching landfill. A Museum Freecycle Twitter account and Pinterest page have also been added to promote the scheme and to ensure that the reduce, reuse, recycle message can now reach even more museums.

The success of the initiative is thanks in part to the determination and vision of its founder – Caroline Keppel-Palmer. Caroline was motivated to start Museum Freecycle when she was Managing Director for the architecture and design studio, Urban Salon. The company worked with many museums designing temporary exhibitions and Caroline noticed that much of the display kit from these exhibitions was ending up in the skip, even though most of it was perfectly reusable.

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Since it began, the scheme has helped to forge hundreds of mutually beneficial relationships across the whole UK museum sector

“I am keen to see as many UK museums as possible join and benefit from Museum Freecycle, so we can reduce waste to an absolute minimum and help as many museums as possible get access to ‘new’ free equipment,” said Caroline Keppel – Palmer, the Founder of Museum Freecycle and the new Museum Bookstore. “The more members we have, the better the site will work for everyone. I would love to see other countries follow suit with their own national Museum Freecycle too.”

Museum Freecycle is a free and easy way for museums to dispose of unwanted items sustainably. It also provides museums with a source of free exhibition furniture and museum equipment; helping them to continue to develop and upgrade their visitor experiences in spite of financial constraints and ever-tighter budgets. To sign up, museums need to create a free Freecycle account and then apply to join the Museum Freecycle group.

It’s not always standard museum equipment and fittings that find new homes either: “We had three responses to our offer of the two Royalist and Parliamentarian mannequins – the phone rang within a minute of sending it out!” explained Lyn Palmer, Interpretation & Exhibitions Manager for Maidstone Borough Council. “So they’re going to the Fenland Trust – a Parliamentarian stronghold of course. I hadn’t put anything on Museum Freecycle before but was really impressed with ease of use and the response we had.”

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You never know what you might find up for offer on Museum Freecycle!

Further information and joining details can be found here:

Museum Freecycle

Follow Museum Freecycle on Twitter @MuseumFreecycle

 

 

Connecting heritage organisations through recycling

Connecting UK museums through the recycling of unwanted exhibition items is at the very heart of a free online service for the UK heritage sector called Museum Freecycle. The project was created in June 2014 and now has over 400 active members and UK museums, galleries and heritage sites are being encouraged to join to help make the Museum Freecycle community grow further.

All UK museums, heritage sites and galleries can sign up for free to use the service and Museum Freecycle has provided an easy and cost effective way for museums to dispose of unwanted items sustainably. Members can either advertise items that they no longer require or search for new items that they might not be able to afford.

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Museum Freecycle is free to join and any UK museum, gallery or heritage site can sign up

One Museum Freecycle member that has benefited is Bloxham Village Museum in Oxfordshire. The museum gained a new purpose built donations box to replace their homemade donations jar and have since seen their visitor donations soar. “Museum Freecycle is a wonderful community. What are other people’s slightly used and no longer wanted items, are our source of supply of just what we want,” said Peter Barwell of Bloxham Museum

Museum Freecycle was founded by Caroline Keppel – Palmer when she was Managing Director for the architecture and design studio, Urban Salon. The company worked with many museums designing temporary exhibitions and noticed that much of the display kit from these exhibitions was ending up in the skip, even though most of it was perfectly reusable.

The project has also created strong bonds between museums in different parts of the country. “Museum Freecycle provides an interesting model for the museum sector linking museums and enabling swaps, gifting and sharing between those museums through a website. I am interested in exploring the potential for extending this ‘sharing economy’ model to other areas within the museum sector to see where else we can create value from underused assets,” said Caroline Keppel – Palmer.

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The project has also created strong bonds between museums in different parts of the country

Find out more about Museum Freecycle

Museum Freecycle: Museum Freecycle Website

Follow Museum Freecycle on Twitter: @MuseumFreecycle

Contact: Caroline Keppel – Palmer: carolinekeppelpalmer1@gmail.com

Museum Freecycle – A Year of Making a Difference

Created in June 2014, the  Museum Freecycle project has gone from strength to strength in its first year, with 400 museums from across the UK now taking part in the scheme. Designed to help museums exchange unwanted items such as display cases, exhibition furniture and office equipment, Museum Freecycle has prevented good quality, reusable museum items from reaching landfill and forged mutually beneficial relationships across the whole museum sector.

The success of the initiative is thanks in part to the determination and vision of its founder – Caroline Keppel-Palmer. Endlessly energetic and one of the most optimistic people you will ever meet, Caroline started Museum Freecycle when she was Managing Director for the architecture and design studio, Urban Salon. The company worked with many museums by designing temporary exhibitions and noticed that much of the display kit from these exhibitions was ending up in the skip, even though most of it was perfectly reusable.

These observations led to the publication of a Design Week article by Alex Mowat from Urban Salon proposing the concept of a Freecycle group aimed at museums. This article caught the attention of Freecycle Founder, Deron Beal and with Deron’s support, Museum Freecycle was born, and the past twelve months have proved hugely successful with new museums signing up to the scheme on an almost daily basis.

The recent addition of a Museum Freecycle twitter account (@Museum Freecycle) has meant that the reduce, reuse, recycle message can now reach even more museums and each week, an assortment of exciting, quirky and useful museum items find new homes across the UK. AIM sat down with Caroline Keppel-Palmer to discover more about the scheme – and her hopes and plans for the next twelve months.

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Museum Freecycle founder Caroline Keppel-Palmer

AIM: Hi Caroline – can you explain the benefits of Museum Freecycle for the museums that take part for us please?

CKP: There are three main benefits really for any museum taking part. The first is that Museum Freecycle is an easy way for museums to dispose of unwanted items sustainably. It also provides museums with a source of free exhibition furniture and museum equipment and finally, it’s free to join and free to use.The sector also benefits. By giving items bound for the skip a second lease of life, Museum Freecycle is reducing economic and environmental waste and creating value from those unwanted assets – all for zero cost.

AIM: How easy it is to join Museum Freecycle Caroline?

CKP: Museum Freecycle is super easy and speedy to join. All you need do is sign up to Freecycle as a museum and then apply to join the Museum Freecycle group. There is a handy how to guide with more details here: Freecycle How To Guide

AIM: Huge congratulations on the first year of the scheme – what have the past twelve months been like?

CKP: Museum Freecycle has grown throughout the year. The Horniman Museum has just become our 400th member and we now have members from across the UK stretching from Cornwall to Orkney! Members find it a convenient and useful way to reduce, reuse and recycle. We’ve found new homes for scores of display cases, mannequins, plinths; hundreds of storage boxes and other items. Museums have been able to use ‘new’ equipment from the site to develop their visitor offer for free. Bloxham Village Museum, for example, were able to replace their homemade donations jam jar to a purpose built donation box complete with thank you printed in twenty different languages by using the site.

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“Museum Freecycle provides an interesting model for the museum sector linking museums and enabling swaps, gifting and sharing between those museums through a website” says founder, Caroline Keppel-Palmer

AIM: Now that the first year has passed, what are your hopes for Museum Freecycle in the future?

CKP: I am keen to see as many UK museums as possible join and benefit from Museum Freecycle, so we can reduce waste to an absolute minimum and help as many museums as possible get access to ‘new’ free equipment. The more members we have, the better the site will work for everyone. I would love to see other countries follow suit with their own national Museum Freecycle too.

AIM: As well as encouraging reuse, we have noticed that there is a real sense of community and camaraderie between all the museums taking part – would you agree?

CKP: Yes, definitely. Museum Freecycle provides an interesting model for the museum sector linking museums and enabling swaps, gifting and sharing between those museums through a website. I am interested in exploring the potential for extending this ‘sharing economy’ model to other areas within the museum sector to see where else we can create value from underused assets. But I need to focus on my new business start up… so that’s for later!

AIM: You are a busy lady indeed. Thanks so much for your time Caroline – is there anything else that you would like to add?

CKP: Don’t forget that Museum Freecycle is free to join, free to use, helps to boost sustainability and make budgets stretch further. I also want to thank everyone for helping me with the scheme especially AIM, Share Museums East and the Collections Trust.

Museum Freecycle Logo v2

 

Find out more about Museum Freecycle Museum Freecycle

Follow Museum Freecycle on Twitter @MuseumFreecycle

Museum Freecycle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Like most organisations, museums often find that they are holding onto items and equipment that they no longer need. If you are in the process of cleaning out your storerooms or updating your displays, spare a thought for your museum colleagues and consider offering your unwanted items via Museum Freecycle.

Museum Freecycle UK has been created for the UK museum industry to use to exchange exhibition build items and other museum-specific materials for free in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the industry. There are currently over 350 members and counting

On the Museum Freecycle forum you can also find items that might benefit your museum, saving you money and helping to reduce environmental waste at the same time. Museum Freecycle regularly updates what is available on offer and display cases, cabinets, office chairs and shelving are available at no cost.

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Museum Freecycle is helping hundreds of museums across the UK

Museum Freecycle benefits its members by:

  • Making disposal and recycling easier
  • Providing a free source of ‘new’ equipment for museums – “I have never had any funds to use for buying anything. Like all little museums we have to go on the cadge for funds to acquire anything.”
  • Providing evidence of museums’ commitment to sustainability – e.g. The Garden Museum’s Sustainability Policy

Benefits the sector by:

  • Unlocking idle assets (£225k-£250k) and increases efficiency within the sector
  • Being operationally efficient:
  • using existing infrastructure from Freecycle
  • devolving responsibility to members
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Museums can now Reduce, Reuse & Recycle too

Museum Freecycle UK has been created for the UK museum industry to use to exchange exhibition build items and other museum-specific materials for free in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the industry.

Museum Freecycle UK was set up by architects and exhibition designers Urban Salon and The Freecycle Network, and is supported by SHARE Museums East and Collections Trust. It is the world’s first industry freecycle group and the world’s first national freecycle group.

Find out more and sign up HERE

Museum Freecycle is going from strength to strength

The Museum Freecycle UK portal is proving a big success with 170 members signed up in its first few months of operation. We covered its launch in June here. Now we’re pleased to share this update from its organisers.

The Museum Freecycle site offers museums an online tool, which enables them to recycle their showcases and other exhibition build items for free. The network connects museums that are discarding setworks from temporary exhibitions and those looking for new elements helping to boost sustainability and reduce costs within the sectors. It is being run by exhibition designers and architects Urban Salon with the support of SHARE Museums East and The Collections Trust.

There are now 170 members across the UK including the National Portrait Gallery, the Design Museum, the Imperial War Museum as well as smaller museums such as the Bagpipe Museum and Bloxham Village Museum. Membership is open to all UK museums.

Urban Salon managing director Caroline Keppel-Palmer says: ‘Members have been using the site actively and we have seen museums posting items including mannequins, display cases, plinths and donation boxes.’

Dulwich Picture Gallery is one of the institutions that has used the portal. Exhibitions officer Nadine Loach says: “I have found Museum Freecycle to be really useful and thoroughly recommend it to everyone I meet with at other institutions. We had a great response to our request for showcases and were very impressed with the offers. Our offer of four display cases was picked up very quickly by several museums in London who emailed within days. The first response was from a National Trust property who sent someone to visit to see the showcases and then later arranged to collect them all.’

Caroline Keppel-Palmer is keen for the project to gain momentum and build membership: ‘The more members that join, the more effective the network will be for the sector. Museum Freecycle is open to all UK museums and membership is free.’

Launch of Museum Freecycle UK

SHARE are delighted to announce the launch of Museum Freecycle UK: a brand new online network which allows museums to re-use and recycle temporary display materials and other museum-specific resources. The network connects museums that are discarding elements from their temporary exhibitions or other projects with those looking for new materials.
You may remember the Marketplace function on the old SHARE Museums East site – Museum Freecycle is a new, national version that anyone working in museums or related organisations can join.

The new Freecycle group has been set up by London-based architects and exhibition designers Urban Salon, who recently proposed the idea in an article for design website Design Week. Following the article’s publication, Urban Salon were contacted by Deron Beal, executive director of Freecycle, leading to the establishment of Museum Freecycle UK, the first ever industry-specific Freecycle group.

SHARE Museums East and Collections Trust are supporting the project, and will act as Moderators for the online group.

The group is now live and ready for posts, so please do sign up using your museum name and start posting. Use the links above to visit the group and download a How To Guide to get you started.If you have comments, questions or suggestions, please contact Liz Elmore, Museum Development Assistant, at elizabeth.elmore@norfolk.gov.uk, or use the Contact Moderators function within the Freecycle group.