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Creating an Understanding for Climate Science through Art

Just a few steps away from the venue of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (COP23, 6-17 November), an exhibition highlighting interlinkages between climate science, artwork, and culture has opened at the Bundeskunsthalle, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Developed in collaboration with the Deutsches Museum and supported by UN Climate Change, the exhibition “Weather Report – About Weather Culture and Climate Science” explains complex weather and climate systems with the help of art works and creates a sense of understanding about their significance for different cultures.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, patron of the exhibition, was meant to attend the opening, but could not make it in time due to the storm Xavier which produced unusually strong winds, preventing her from flying form Berlin to Bonn.

Her Spokesperson Nick Nuttall spoke on her behalf, and put the opening of the exhibition firmly into the context of the growing number extreme weather events, including the storm in Germany this week and the devastating hurricanes that devastated parts of the Eastern Caribbean, Latin America and the US in the recent weeks, along with the extreme flooding in Asia.

“We are living in a world where extreme weather events are becoming more common place than they were before. The scientists are now getting to the point where they can start attributing some percentage of extreme weather events to the human made climate change,” he said.

The opening press conference of the exhibition Bonn

Nick Nuttall also underscored the importance of going beyond the economic arguments to communicate climate change and pointed out how such exhibitions can inspire people to take climate action.

“This is also about the beauty of the weather. Some people need to be moved by art to think differently and see their perspective change. We need a broad movement of different perspectives to shape a broad response globally, nationally in our homes, in our schools,” he said.

The visitors can take a journey through the history of climate science with the help of photographs, paintings, sculptures, videos and interactive sessions, via a circular tour of 12 different rooms which allow visitors to experience different weather and climate phenomena.

The exhibition features scientific exhibits such as an original thermometer by Daniel Fahrenheit and works from several renowned artists, including John Constable and William Turner.

A “Weather Studio” at the end of the exhibition introduces techniques of weather forecasting. And there is a three-dimensional data visualization of carbon dioxide swirling around the globe:

Rein Wolfs, the Director of the Bundeskunsthalle is keen to stress that the exhibition captures both the beauty of many weather phenomena – such as towering clouds captured in painting of the 19th century – and the threats that weather can pose.

“The aim of the exhibition is to inspire and affect, but also to provide explanations and raise awareness. Weather is part of our culture, and climate protection is the fundamental task of the present and the future,”  he says.

The exhibition will run until 4 March, 2018 and provides an excellent opportunity for delegates of the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 to reflect and tank up on some climate inspiration between meetings.

Hendrik Avercamp, Winter Landscape, 1605, Oil on oak wood, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, © KHM-Museumsverband – a memory of the time when winters in Europe were invariably cold.

Otto von Guericke, Magdeburg hemispheres, 1661, Iron, cord, Deutsches Museum, München © bpk / Lutz Braun, 1996

See the Bundeskunsthalle website for more information.