Video: Museumhive Hangout with Beka Economopoulos: Museums and Environmental Action

Had a great Hangout with Beka Economopoulos, co-founder of The Natural History Museum, a popup museum in Brooklyn that is changing perceived boundaries around museums by taking exhibits and programs out on the road and collaborating with organizations. Beka encourages museums to take a position on issues such as environmental change to be more relevant to the communities they serve. “People love museums and want to see them live up to their visions.”


  • 01:00 Powerpoint: The Natural History Museum
  • 03:25 Reconnect to the living universe, past to present
  • 04:20 Re-evaluate role in the midst of profound environmental change
  • 04:35 About The Natural History Museum
  • 06:20 Making science and natural history relevant to people’s daily lives

  • 07:00 Helping museums get into a more engaged position with the communities they serve
  • 08:20 Point #1: Take a position. “Neutral” is not what visitors are looking for. MuseumNext Survey
  • 11:50 Cutting ties to the fossil fuel industry
  • 13:55 Point #2: Engaging impacted communities. Houston project, toxic tours.
  • 16:30 Operation Dinosaur air quality monitoring
  • 17:20 Point #3: Journey to the Living Universe
  • 18:00 Collaboration with indigenous community impacted by environmental change
  • 23:00 Question from audience: Starting a popup museum
  • 25:40 “Fake it till you make it” strategy
  • 30:50 People love museums, want to see them live up to their visions. Too often answer the holy grail of “relevance” with interactive apps
  • 33:50 Question from audience: How do you find collaborators/partners?
  • 35:15  Question from audience: How did you choose the name The Natural History Museum; and roles for high school students?
  • 37:40 Question: What’s the story of the van?
  • 39:00 Question: How did you arrive where you are?
  • 40:30 Need to “unfossilize” our institutions and embolden them
  • 41:10  Question: what was the reaction to the exhibit in Houston?
  • 42:30 Question: tell us more about your role in the March for Science
  • 48:50 Following your passion. If you’re excited about content and can get others excited, you’re 90% of the way there
  • 49:50 Funding: in taking a position you unlock new revenue streams, social change funders, foundations
  • 53:20 Wrap up: contribute to our continued discussions

Your thoughts? Post them to the hive below!…


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant MG-45-16-0029-16. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Museumhive also is grateful for support from District Hall, a dedicated civic space where Boston’s innovation community can gather and exchange ideas.