Museum Freecycle

October 23, 2014


A talk by Caroline Keppel-Palmer (Urban Salon).


Museum freecycle is a free portal to facilitate the free exchange of exhibition build items between UK museums. It was set up by Urban Salon with the support of the Collections Trust, Share Museums East and Freecycle.


Please use this link if you want additional information or wish to join the network.


Notes on talk:


  • Urban Salon works mainly on temporary exhibtions.

  • They design a structure based around the curatorial narrative.

  • Exhibition cases and builds are often suited to the speciifc exhibtiion it was created for.

  • Temporary exhibtions are therefore inherently wasteful.

  • This is not intentional but often down to the quick turn-around inbetween exhibtions and limited storage.



Urban Salon observations


  • Temporary exhibitions are inherently wasteful. Due to short turn around times between shows and limited storage reusable items were being skipped.

  • Museums were started to recycle items from exhibitions between themselves but this was time consuming and a bit hit and miss.

  • Reusing elements from helped us stretch budgets further.


The Site


  • Announced as a concept in an article on 'design week', it went from a campaign to project in 5 hours.

  • The project went to reality within 2 weeks.


  • Since the site went live during mid 2014, it has attracted 200 users within 3 months.



Initial feedback

Some items are more popular than others

  • Products such as display cases are proving more popular that more bespoke build elements eg graphic banner holders and carpet


Issues that have been raised

  • designer copyright

  • waste carrier licence

  • liability

  • lack of awareness of scheme in overall sector


Next steps and where we need your help


Raising awareness and increasing membership

  • The more members in the network, the better the network will work for everyone

  • Word of mouth

  • Website links, mailing lists, articles in newsletters, speaker opps at museum events etc


Review what is working and what isn’t working

  • Feedback on your experience of the site, who responded, from how far afield and how quickly


A final word

  • This is a first

  • The platform provides the sector with a free way to understand the dynamics of reuse

    • drivers for demand

    • if the activity is regional or national etc

    • barriers to reuse

    • issues

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