Story at a glance:

  • A popup museum in Chicago is one of seven climate museums in the world.
  • The Climate Action Museum in downtown Chicago asks people to consider the small things they can do to effect change.

Doug Farr wants you to have fun. He wants you to have hope. The nationally recognized architect, urbanist, and author leads Chicago-based Farr Associates, and he’s spearheading an ambitious project now known as the Climate Action Museum.

Open in June 2023 at 300 S. Riverside Plaza, the popup museum is donation-based and is the followup to a successful “Energy Revolution” exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center last year. In recent months the organizing committee has planned parties and fundraisers to drum up excitement—they even hosted comedians—for the forthcoming museum. Farr hopes to build on the previous exhibit’s success and engage more visitors in an optimistic conversation about what each of us can do to slow climate change in the next year.


Organizers plan next steps for the popup Climate Action Museum at 300 S. Riverside Plaza in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Climate Action Museum

“We start where we are today in 2023/24 and say we want a carbon-free future in 50 years. We say, ‘Here’s what it looks like. There are many paths to get from here to there,’” Farr says. “People are thinking about their activities in the greater context of, ‘What difference does it make if I take my house and cut off my gas or electrify everything?’ Well, if tens of thousands of people do that, you could create a tipping point. Each individual action adds up to be part of a bigger thing.”

The Climate Action Museum ultimately aims to activate a tipping point on climate mitigation in the Chicago region through education, conversation, and direct action in our everyday lives. The group hopes to reach 275,000 people over five years. “You should feel empowered. We’re going to leave you with clear ideas of what to do,” Farr says.

Each individual action adds up to be part of a bigger thing.

The museum will educate and inspire with docent-led conversations as well as an exhibit that explores the evolution of area buildings—from inherently green buildings of old to some of the modern behemoths responsible for extreme carbon emissions today and everything in between. A quiet area will also ask visitors to pledge how they can make a difference moving forward and will include a list of actions you can take no matter who you are—child, parent, politician, anyone. “What do you have agency over? Do you own a house or a car?” Farr asks.


Attendees celebrate the future Climate Action Museum at 300 S. Riverside Plaza. Photo courtesy of Climate Action Museum

The group is partnering with BOMA Chicago to host the popup museum at 300 S. Riverside Plaza in a large lobby space for a year. Entry is free and fundraising continues, including a Summer Solstice Opening Celebration cocktail party complete with fire spinners on June 21.