Presi for Sydney Jewish Museum Research Project

Traditionally, museums focus on educating their visitors about the past. In today’s age though, this is simply not enough. Institutions are overlooking their obligation to plan for the future. For both locals and international tourists, museums are viewed as leaders and frontrunners when it comes to doing what is best for the people. 

To be sustainable means that we need to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations. Similarly, The Sydney Jewish Museum places a focus on educating their visitors about the Holocaust, to ensure that we are knowledge about the past so we do not compromise future generations. If we are knowledgeable, we should do what is right for those who will come after us. With the large influx of visitors at the SJM, they have the capability to help be a leader of change in museum sustainability.

For my final research project for the Sydney Jewish Museum, I created a working Sustainability Plan. I researched what many of the leading institutions around the world are doing, and I was able to create a personalized plan for the SJM. I broke it down into three main aspects of sustainable development: environment, economy, and society. I outlined both short and long-term goals, educated and informed them about what many of the sustainable practices are, and I gave suggestions for how I would go about attacking these problems based on the research that I conducted. 

I chose to work with the Sydney Jewish Museum, because I didn’t know anything about Judaism in Australia, neither historically nor currently. The museum highlights Sydney’s ties to the Jewish religion, so I was excited to learn more. Additionally, I myself am Jewish and am passionate about the horrors of the Holocaust, the other focal point of the museum, so I was excited to continue to educate myself in that aspect too. The museum helps to educate their visitors about the rich culture and religion of Judaism through both permanent and feature exhibitions, memorials, collections, events, and they even have local survivors who speak there on a weekly basis. 

I didn’t choose to do this project specifically, although I altered it along the way to best suit what I viewed would be most impactful for the museum. I really wanted to do something that would teach me more about this interesting period of history, but I knew it was important for me to do what the museum needed the most. The original idea came from Mrs. Roslyn Sugarman, who is the head curator at the Sydney Jewish Museum. She got the idea for this project after attending a conference that focused on museum sustainability. Museums are leaders in their respective communities and help to set a precedent for change, as people view museums as moral and ethical institutions. We ran with this idea of creating a sustainability campaign, and Ms. Breann Fallon had many insightful ideas along the way as well. 

I got caught up going to the museum and meeting with many individuals to see how their respective departments run, that I didn’t decide until late for how I would conduct the final project. I thought that a Sustainability Plan is really the best first course of action to help create change, so I thought I would write-up a personalized one myself. During my research, I used action-plan documents that other museums or governing bodies had written up previously. 

I wanted to do this project because I knew it would benefit everyone. It will help to create a better and healthier workplace within the SJM by constantly reminding internal members to make more environmentally friendly choices on a daily basis. Also, the museum has hundreds of visitors each week, and they will be the beneficiary and seeing the museum as a leader of change in this field, and they will hopefully be inspired by the progress the museum is making. 

Sydney Jewish Museum Week 6

Tyler Krantz is documenting his work with the Sydney Jewish Museum for History Beyond the Classroom 2019. Read the other posts in his series here.

This week, I have broken my sustainability plan down into three parts: environment, economy, and society. This approach will give the museum the best holistic overview of a sustainability plan. For each of these three sections I give goals for each, both short-term and long as well. I propose immediate changes for each, and I outline the best course of steps to take to achieve many of these goals that could take 3-5 years.

For the environment, which focuses on how the museum interacts with the surrounding area, I address how they can more efficiently use the energy and resources around them. This covers everything from water usage, to utilities, equipment, and more. I am working to make this plan as easy to follow and achieve as possible, with creating the biggest impact as well. Beyond products, I give tips and guidelines to ensure that they stay on track. Long-term, I propose calculating their annual carbon footprint to better see where their issues are, along with arranging for a sustainability audit as well. Immediate action focuses on finding alternative products that are more environmentally friendly. This is easy, but to ensure that it doesn’t create a burden for them monetarily and logistically for them to switch, is a whole different battle. This is why looking into the economics of it is my next pillar, much of what I talked about last week. 

Finally, “society” looks at relationships within the institution and how they run. This to me is the culture of the place, which is their biggest issue. I propose creating a “Green Team,” reaching out to other museums that are leading in this field, and educating their workers and visitors on what they are trying to accomplish. This is the toughest area, but certainly the most important.

Sydney Jewish Museum Week 5

Tyler Krantz is documenting his work with the Sydney Jewish Museum for History Beyond the Classroom 2019. Read the other posts in his series here.

Over the past few weeks, I had been going to the museum as much as possible to try and best understand how each department with it is run. As the final project is nearing, I had to decide what the best use of my time would be to leave the greatest impact of the institution. While I had some very abstract and ambitious plans in terms of environmentalism, I felt that I was getting a little too ahead of myself. The museum had not even had anything close to a sustainability plan in place to begin with, so that is where I wanted to place the greatest emphasis. I started researching different museum’s sustainability plans not only in NSW and Australia, but around the globe as well. I have been looking into what many of the leading institutions are currently doing. I have started to take the best-of-the-best from each of these plans that would best suit the SJM, and I am bringing them together to create a personalized plan for the museum.

Since I was able to get my hands on tax invoices and catalogues of items that they purchase, I have been researching alternative “green” products that are more environmentally friendly without creating a burden to their pocket. In the office, I have been focusing on alternatives for copy paper and single-use paper cups, two of the biggest issues that Roslyn has stressed to me in this process. Moreover, I have looked into eco-friendly ink cartridges and miscellaneous items around the office such as pens, paper, highlighters, and more. For the kitchen and bathroom, I have focused on straws, napkins, plates, paper towels, exc. Overall, my focus has been on how to best use these resources that we take for granted.

Sydney Jewish Museum Week 4 – Speaking with staff

Tyler Krantz is documenting his work with the Sydney Jewish Museum for History Beyond the Classroom 2019. Read the other posts in his series here.

This week, I was able to get the museum twice to speak to different staff members. After talking to Naomi who runs operations for the office, I was able to sit down with Aviva who runs the overall operations of the building. She was more environmentally conscious than I would have anticipated. She has timers going for lights in the building, and the majority shut off after hours but still leave dimmed lights for the cleaning staff. All of the materials that she buys in the cafe are recyclable, and she is currently working on bringing in bamboo plates. She also had their counterpart in utensils, but she said she removed them after receiving many complaints about the taste that they would leave behind. We spoke about paper towels in the bathroom and how electric dryers, while they do eliminate paper use, still leave a burden in energy costs. Additionally, paper/recycling was a big topic of conversation. While the museum does recycle all of its paper, there is an issue within the country as recycling is getting tossed as rubbish, since the Chinese will not accept Australia’s recycled materials anymore, so it’s nearly a nuisance at this point.

After our conversation, she introduced me to man named Roy who runs the accounting office. He was able to provide me with invoices of the products that they are buying, which will allow me to compare these products with others that might be more environmentally friendly. I will be able to compare prices and look at the ethics behind these companies as well. Furthermore, I should be able to calculate the amount of paper that they use on a monthly basis, an area that everyone in the office has told me is a huge issue.

Finally, I am going to speak with the IT department later this week to figure out if I could potentially make the backbone of an app that would display a map of the different locations of the museum in order to reduce paper use. As of now, my main project will be a 3-5 year sustainability action plan for the SJM. More to come!

Sydney Jewish Museum Week 3 – Meetings at the Museum

Tyler Krantz is documenting his work with the Sydney Jewish Museum for History Beyond the Classroom 2019. Read the other posts in his series here.

This week, Breann and Roslyn wanted me to have the full experience of the SJM to see how their operations run on a daily basis. They paired me up with a class that was touring the museum, so I got hear from some of their great curators. Afterwards, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to Kitty, one of their Holocaust survivors who speaks their on a regular basis. Environmentally, I got to observe the trends of the both the museum, along with the visitors, to see where I can help to make some changes. One idea that I had was to create a mobile app that would have a map of the building and its key sites/locations, instead of passing out pamphlets to everyone who walks into the building.

After experiencing what a typical visitor would, I talked with Breann, along with members of the Marketing and Operations teams. Most importantly, I was able to gather data on how much paper they use, the price, and the company that supplies it as well. Moreover, I got all of the information on the products that they use within the office, and next week I am meeting with another member of the Operations team to gather information on the resources they use elsewhere in the facility, along with the events that are held there as well.

I spoke with some of the individuals about my thoughts for longer-term projects, and we came up with the idea to try and implement an Elkay bottle-filling station to ensure the elimination of paper cups. This is an expensive product, but we have already started looking into how we could pull this off. Moreover, I am looking at nearby museums to hopefully give our Green Team someone to reach out to and to observe their trends. The Australian Museum just created their own Sustainability Action Plan, something I am hopefully going to be able to create myself as well.

Collecting information to track the Sydney Jewish Museum’s sustainability.

Sydney Jewish Museum Week 2 – Creating the Outline

Tyler Krantz is documenting his work with the Sydney Jewish Museum for History Beyond the Classroom 2019. Read the other posts in his series here.

This week, I worked to create an outline of the more specific goals that I wanted to accomplish for this project. I started with changes that could happen immediately, the first being determining the institution’s carbon footprint. I have asked for help from those I have met at the museum to learn more about how the employees commute to work, the events that they hold, and their shipping trends as well. This will allow me to figure out gaps in where the SJM is falling behind. Secondly, I am looking into using their resources more efficiently, including cups, plates, straws, utensils, and more. I am researching wooden utensils, paper straws, and water bottles for the staff members, to figure out pricing for the products.

Moreover, I am looking into what some other local museums are doing as well, mostly the Australian Museum, which has taken a big stance on environmental change. Additionally, I am helping to arrange an energy audit, and I am continuing to educate myself on the advantages of this report. I have been speaking with SJM contacts Breann and Roselyn about co-heading a Green Team to educate the employees, and to help inform the public as well.

I have already worked to create the first project with the help of the marketing team. We want to put signs up in the bathrooms and by the drinking fountains to remind employees and visitors of the impact that they have when they use a paper cup or a paper towel. The longer-term projects I am continuing to work on will be highlighted in a later post. I sent this outline to Breann and Roslyn, who are both very excited about the direction that I am taking. They also both liked the mock-posters that I created to help point them in the right direction.

Mock poster for Sydney Jewish Museum.
Mock poster for Sydney Jewish Museum.

Initial Thoughts

My organization is the Sydney Jewish Museum, which focuses on the history of the Holocaust along with Sydney’s ties to the Jewish religion. They are educators, helping to teach their visitors about the rich culture and religion of Judaism through both permanent and feature exhibitions, memorials, collections, events, and even through local survivors. I was interested in working with the SJM because I myself am Jewish and it is an essential part of my identity, upbringing, and ancestry. I have taken a few Religious Studies courses and one on the post-rhetoric of the Holocaust which still may be the most interesting class I have taken to date. I enjoy studying the Holocaust and have been to many museums, monuments, and memorials in Germany, Israel, and Washington D.C., and I was curious to learn how Australia, and specifically Sydney, was impacted by this period of time. Moreover, I knew I wanted to work with this museum, because while we toured the institution during class, I thought the place was beautiful, the curators were incredibly intelligent, and I was emotionally moved by much of what I saw while I was there. I genuinely think it is an exciting place, and I am excited to work with them. 

When I showed up to my meeting with Breann and the Head Curator Mrs. Roslyn Sugarman at the Sydney Jewish Museum, I was excited to see which avenue of Judaism and/or the Holocaust I would be pursuing for the remainder of the semester. When they informed me that they wanted me to create a campaign surrounding the museum’s internal sustainability, I was hesitant to say the least. After hearing them out though and doing some initial work of my own, I realized just how big of an impact I can have on this museum in the short time that I am able to work with them. Mrs. Sugarman was telling me about a conference she recently attended in which the two of the biggest trends in museums currently are ideas surrounding accessibility and environmental sustainability. She told me that museums are leaders in helping to set a precedent for change, as people view museums as moral and ethical institutions. 

My plan is to write a proposal to the Board and to create a presentation to educate and pitch to them the changes that I would make. My goal is to show them the impact that they can make without reaching deep into his pockets, and to get him to sign off on the changes that I am proposing. Simply, I am acting as a consultant for the Sydney Jewish Museum. To tie this into the study of History, I am going to take a Museum Studies approach by evaluating what some of the other local and international museums that are helping to lead this environmental campaign. Some of my initial ideas include: calculating the museum’s Carbon Footprint, creating a Green Team, setting goals for the near and distant future, and to help educate the staff.