Miranda Massie in Manhattan this month. She believes climate change is a museum-worthy topic. Credit Gregg Delman for The New York Times Miranda Massie may not be the most obvious candidate to create a museum in New York City devoted to the subject of climate change. As a child growing up in the Hudson Valley in the 1970s, she rebelled against her father’s early efforts at recycling. Later, after flirting with getting a Ph.D. in history, she became a lawyer specializing in civil rights and took a job in Detroit.
Upon returning to New York several years ago, though, Ms. Massie began to view environmental issues — and climate change in particular — through the lens of social activism. “If you don’t have the right to thrive as an organism, then everything else falls away,” she said. “I came to see the environment as a civil rights issue.”
While it is still just a concept, the Climate Museum has become Ms. Massie’s mission. Last month, the New York State Board of Regents approved its provisional charter, and next month, the museum’s newly appointed five-member board of trustees is to meet for the first time. Still needed: a place for the museum to be built, and money to build it.
For now, Ms. Massie, 48, a slightly built woman who radiates restless energy, is working with several summer interns in space donated by a law firm on the 18th floor of a Midtown Manhattan office building. And just as she would construct a legal case, which she did most recently at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, she is assembling the building blocks of an institution that she believes will fill a void in the campaign to slow global warming.
Groups and research centers such as 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Columbia University’s Earth Institute are doing groundbreaking work, Ms. Massie said. What is lacking, she argued, is a broad effort to educate the public.
“It’s that kind of gap analysis that produced the idea for the museum,” she said.