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Green Team: Repurposing Exhibition Building Materials

by Franck Mercurio, Publications Editor


green team , design and installation , Scrap2Home , exhibition design , exhibitions , sustainability

What happens to an exhibition’s display cases after a temporary show has ended and all the art has been de-installed?

Museums try to reuse, repurpose, and recycle materials used to build exhibitions. These efforts—often a shared initiative between a museum’s Installation and Design departments—not only reduce the carbon footprint, but also improve the bottom line by spending less on new materials.

At the Cincinnati Art Museum, used casework and leftover building materials—such as scrap lumber— can be difficult to store on site because of space limitations. What then to do with these cases and excess materials after a temporary show closes?

One organization in Cincinnati provides an innovative solution. Scrap2Home is a nonprofit based in the suburb of Blue Ash, Ohio, and is dedicated to producing furniture from scrap wood—such as tables and shelves—specifically for people in need. Their motto: “We save wood from landfills and provide free furniture to people who cannot afford to buy it.”

“Since the launch [of Scrap2Home] in 2020, we have saved almost seven tons of wood that has been used to build 450 pieces of furniture plus multiple large shelving units,” says Nick Francis, co-founder and executive director of Scrap2Home. “We donate each piece through New Life Furniture Bank, another local nonprofit.”

In April 2023, the Cincinnati Art Museum made its first donation: some 20 different pieces of exhibition casework. Scrap2Home used the wood from the case bases to make furniture for people who now live in new homes after experiencing homelessness.

The museum hopes to expand its collaboration with Scrap2Home in the future. In the meantime, the museum continues to explore new ways of being green. Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts covering more initiatives!

Two white men attach wood panels to a steel frame.

Guys building a wall for a CAM temporary exhibition.