OUR MISSION

The Natural History Museum collaborates with frontline communities, artists, scientists, and scholars to create new narratives about our shared history and future, with the goal of educating the public, measurably influencing public opinion, and inspiring collective action. Through award-winning exhibitions and films, public events, research and publishing, and campaigns we support community-led land and water defense and spur scientists, heritage professionals, and museums to advance climate and environmental justice. 

NHM is a museum for the movement. We have a mission to build a community of practice around a natural history for the future. This future is informed by a non-dominating and non-exploitative relation to life, labor, and land, and guided by an obligation to generations past, present and future. 

A traveling museum without walls, our programs take place online, in museums and cultural centers, in communities and at conferences, and in our outdoor exhibition and IMAX-style film projection venue, under the stars.

The museum is a project of Not An Alternative, an art collective and 501c3 nonprofit. Since 2004, we have specialized in working with communities on cultural organizing, narrative-changing, and alliance-building strategies. Our work has helped to generate worldwide media coverage for the campaigns and community-led struggles we contribute to, and our projects have been featured in the Guggenheim, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, PS1/MOMA, Queens Museum, Tate Modern, Museo del Arte Moderno, and beyond.

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NHM Bus

OUR STORY

In the face of the sixth mass extinction, we do not need bigger and better mausoleums; nor do we need more durable fortresses to protect our most treasured landscapes and cultural objects. We need to turn museums inside out, to transform them into resources that support the life that runs through everything–inside, beneath, and beyond their walls. We need infrastructures to catalyze and amplify our shared struggle for a just and livable world.

Launched by the activist art collective Not An Alternative in 2014, The Natural History Museum began as a performative art intervention taking the form of a traveling, pop-up museum. Today, we are building a museum for the movement. 

This is our story.

 

OUR TEAM

Staff and Fellows

Board of Directors

Advisory Board

Partners


SELECTED PRESS

Totem pole journey calling for removal of Snake River dams stops at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute The Union-Bulletin May 18, 2022
Exhibit at Tamastslikt Cultural Institute draws attention to plight of salmon and orcas East Oregonian May 11, 2022
Why Indigenous Activists Are Driving a 25-Foot Totem Pole Across the Country Smithsonian Magazine Jul 21, 2021
Why is this totem pole traveling across America? National Geographic Jul 16, 2021
Islanders Flock to “Whale People: Protectors of the Sea” Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Jul 15, 2021
Native activists begin cross-country tour to highlight at-risk sacred sites Indian Country Times Jul 15, 2021
Indigenous people are trekking across the US with a 25-foot totem pole. Here’s why CNN Jul 11, 2021
Native Americans are transporting a 5,000-pound totem pole to D.C. from the Pacific Northwest Washington Post Jun 19, 2021
Look inside a pop-up exhibit trying to push Big Oil out of museums Grist May 18, 2021
Lummi Nation carvers and allies to embark on national tour to D.C., give totem pole to President Biden The Seattle Times Apr 12, 2021
A Sacred Pilgrimage: Lummi Carvers Take a Totem Pole Cross-Country to Stop Degradation of Native Lands American Indian Feb 3, 2023
Pop-Up Museums as Political Organizing: Can Totem Poles Help Turn the Tide on Fossil Fuels? NonProfit Quarterly Dec 4, 2018
A Traveling Museum Builds Support for Native Resistance to Resource Extraction Pacific Standard Dec 17, 2018
Bold New Museum Exhibit Urges World to Save Washington State’s Nearly-Extinct Orcas Gizmodo Nov 23, 2018
Examining the Influence of Fossil Fuel Sponsors on Natural History Museums’ Energy Exhibitions DeSmog Jun 16, 2016
Activists Highlight Oil Company Influence of Houston Science Museum Triple Pundit Apr 1, 2016
Air for Sale? A Project Row Houses exhibit prompts tough questions about oil industry pollution, Editorial Houston Chronicle Feb 3, 2023
Science Museums Cutting Financial Ties to Fossil Fuel Industry Inside Climate News Nov 16, 2015
Clearing the Air: Artists Take on Corporate Influence in Natural History Museums Creative Time Reports Sep 2, 2014

Awards

  • Creative Capital Award (2020)
  • Grist Fix: Top 50 Environmentalists of the Year (2020)
  • “Oscar for Museums” Finalist, by the Leading Culture Awards in Berlin, co-sponsored by The
  • New York Times and UK-based Lord Consulting (2020)
  • Inaugural Roddenberry Foundation Fellowship (2018)
  • No Longer Empty Gala Honoree (2018)
  • Inaugural Courage and Creativity Award, presented by Eyebeam (2016)
  • Beespace NYC, Incubation Fellowship (2016-2017)
  • “Best in Art in 2015” Round-up by Holland Cotter, The New York Times (2015)
  • “Best in Art in 2015” Round-up by ArtNet (2015)
  • Fellowship, Eyebeam Art & Technology Center (2014–2016)
  • Creative Change Fellowship, Opportunity Agenda (2016)
  • Art & Social Justice Working Group, Vera List Center for Art & Politics at The New School (2015)
  • A Blade of Grass Fellowship (2014)

Film Festival Awards (2018-2022): Our short films won awards at the Best Shorts Competition, Toronto Beaches Film Festival, Tulum World Environment Film Festival, and Global Independent Film Festival, and were official selections at the Cannes International Independent Film Festival, International Wildlife Film Festival, American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, Toronto Short Film Festival, Festival Internacional de las Artes Cinematograficas de San Cristobal de las Casas, Woodstock Museum Film Festival, Tacoma Film Festival, and Dreamspeakers International Film Festival.

Supporters / Funders

  • 4Culture
  • A Blade of Grass
  • Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
  • Argosy Foundation
  • Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums
  • Beespace NYC
  • Benoona Fund of RSF Social Finance
  • Canada Council for the Arts
  • Chorus Foundation
  • Compton Foundation
  • Cross Currents Foundation
  • David Rockefeller Foundation
  • Global Wallace Fund
  • Harder Foundation
  • Heinz Foundation
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • Horton Foundation Fund
  • Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation
  • Invoking The Pause of RSF Social Finance
  • Keta Legacy Foundation
  • LUSH Charity Pot
  • Myer Memorial Trust
  • Nathan Cummings Foundation
  • National Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Geographic Foundation
  • Native Arts and Culture Foundation
  • Northwest Fund for the Environment
  • Overbrook Foundation
  • Patagonia Foundation
  • Resources Legacy Fund
  • Rose Foundation
  • Scintilla Foundation
  • Solidaire
  • The New York Community Trust
  • Trust for Mutual Understanding
  • Vadon Foundation
  • Voqal Fund
  • Washington State Commerce Department
  • The Water Foundation
  • City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture