2020 has been a year of storms–wildfires in Australia and California, extreme hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, and a pandemic that has ground the world to a halt. While some people impatiently call for a “return to normal,” others see that there can be no return: the unrelenting disasters of our times follow directly from the routine and systematic extraction of Black, brown, and Indigenous life, labor, and land. From #BlackLivesMatter to #Landback, people have taken to the streets–disrupting traffic, blocking pipelines, and toppling monuments to white supremacy as they lay the foundations for a more just world.
James Baldwin once said that storms are always coming. The challenge is not to get through the storm, but “to bear witness to something that will have to be there when the storm is over, to help us get through the next storm.” The Storm We’ve Been Waiting For is a monthly Webinar Series that aims to take stock of the storms of the present by looking both to the histories that produced them and the emancipatory future they make possible. It takes its title from a popular slogan of the Flood Wall Street actions in 2014, proposing that we see ourselves as part of the storm that will clear the path toward a livable and egalitarian future for all.
New events will be added monthly.
The Natural History Museum aims to model the museum of the future: one that aligns its interests and resources with the communities that are leading efforts to protect natural and cultural heritage, block extractivist projects, and point the way to an equitable and safe future for all. We bring Indigenous and allied leaders, scientists and scholars together to develop research, storytelling and narrative-change initiatives, exhibitions, and advocacy campaigns—engaging the constituencies and institutions broadly associated with natural history to protect water, land, sacred sites, and in the context of climate change and the biocultural diversity crisis, our collective future.
With this series, NHM explores what it means for museums to anchor their struggles in view of the next storm. For us, it does not mean turning away from the crises we face, but situating them in their historical trajectory—between contested past and indeterminate future. It means insisting on the indeterminacy of this future, clarifying the operative divisions at play, and taking a side—the side of those who are struggling for a safe and equitable future for all. Only then can museums guarantee a future for themselves.
Arielle Lawson, Ashley Dawson, Beka Economopoulos, Jason Jones, Judith LeBlanc (Caddo), Julian Brave Noisecat (Secwepemc/St’at’imc), Kai Bosworth, Ruth Miller (Dena’ina Athabaskan), Steve Lyons