Bike. Copyright by Jüdisches Museum.

10 Viennese Museums and 17 SDGs

Does museum work have to be committed to a "better", i.e. more sustainable world? Or are museums places of education and enjoyment? The project "10 Viennese Museums x 17 SDGs" shows that both demands on museums can be met.

In 2022, the General Assembly of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) worked on the definition of a museum. The result is a new addition that declares that museums "promote diversity and sustainability" ("Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability."). This fits very well with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These political objectives of the United Nations are intended to ensure sustainable development worldwide on an economic, social and ecological level. And museums can also contribute to this.

"10 Viennese Museums x 17 SDGs"

With this in mind, the project "10 Viennese Museums x 17 SDGs" has been running since May 2022. It is an initiative of ICOM Austria, the largest domestic organisation of museums, and OekoBusiness Wien, the environmental service programme of the City of Vienna. Each participating museum chose two SDGs to consider, to implement, to make "real" in their respective museum work. In this way, not only is Vienna's path to climate neutrality 2040 supported, but the goal of the Viennese museums is also to anchor the awareness for an ecologically and socially just coexistence in the museum work of the visitors.

The Austrian Ecolabel for Museums

Among the ten participating museums, there are also three that have been certified with the Austrian Ecolabel: the Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna, the KunstHausWien - Museum Hundertwasser and the MAK - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts. Since 2018, the Austrian Ecolabel for Museums has also been available. Ecolabel museums are particularly committed to environmentally friendly management and social responsibility and see themselves as "bridges" between the past and the future.

Tikun Olam

The Jewish Museum of the City of Vienna received the Austrian Ecolabel in July 2022, choosing SDGs 3 and 4:

  • "Health and well-being": a healthy life for all people of all ages must be ensured, the well-being of all must be promoted.
  • "Quality education": The goal is education for all, ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

"The Jewish principle of 'Tikun Olam' is about making the world a better place. We are therefore particularly pleased to be part of the '10 Museums 17 SDGs' project," said the Jewish Museum Vienna. Tikun Olam, Hebrew תיקון עולם, can also be read as "repairing the world" and thus meets with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Kunsthaus Wien. Copyright by Umweltzeichen.

Living with green

KunstHausWien – Museum Hundertwasser was the first museum to be certified with the Austrian Ecolabel in June 2018. The project "10 Viennese Museums x 17 SDGs" focuses on technical measures such as recycling or greening concepts, as KunstHausWien tackled SDGs 11 and 13 this year:

  • Sustainable Cities and Communities: Cities and settlements must be designed to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Climate action: Immediate action must be taken to combat climate change and its impacts.

Protests against fast fashion

The MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts initiated TikTok protests against fast fashion as part of "10 Viennese Museums x 17 SDGs". For it has taken up SDGs 12 and 17:

  • Sustainable consumption and production: sustainable consumption and production patterns must be ensured.
  • Partnerships to achieve the goals: Means of implementation need to be strengthened, global partnership for sustainable development need to be revitalised.

Education, enjoyment, reflection (ICOM 2022): With the project "10 Museums x 17 SDGs", Vienna's museums are well on their way to being institutions for a more sustainable world, but also places of education and enjoyment.