Trash on exhibit? That’s not someone’s opinion. At the Garbage Museum in Stratford, Connecticut, the trash on exhibit is trash – literally! Developed and maintained by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA) this museum, which first opened its doors in 1993, serves to educate and explore “the many challenges and solutions of waste management,” while also highlighting the importance of recycling through education programs and tours for children and adults. According to a recent Associated Press article by Dave Collins (found in the Staten Island Advance, 4/19/09), “…the truckes keep dumping trash and the school buses keeping dumping children.”
Upon reading the above mentioned article entitled, “It’s always Earth Day at trash museum,” I was surprised that I was not (yet) familiar with this museum, nor was I aware of it’s sister museum, the Trash Museum in Hartford, Connecticut. Although the museums boasted reported a combined visitation of over 57,000 people last year, the Garbage Museum is facing money problems. It is interesting that while some museums struggle to reflect and defend their relevancy to the public, with the growing popularity of “being green,” recycling, and using sustainable and environmentally friendly products, the Garbage Museum is struggling to keep its doors open. Unfortunately, the Museum received its funding from one source (the Southwest Connecticut Recycling Operating Committee, SWEROC) and between contracts being up and the global recession, SWEROC is no longer in a position to cover the museum’s operational costs (approximately $225,000 annually), leaving the museum to “scramble” to find alternative financial support. If this is the case, I may not get the chance to meet Trash-o-saurus, a dinosaur made from a ton of trash (representing the amount of trash an average person throws away in a year) on display at the museum.
With a modest admission price of $2, the museum offers interactive experiences of walking through a giant compost pile and “watching what happens to recyclables in a ‘sky-box’ view of the tipping and sorting process.” As the Garbage Museum is connected to its regional recycle center, such experiences beautifully intertwine the purpose and mission with its programming and offerings. As the museum is open to the public on select weekdays it may be difficult to plan a visit, however do make a point to visit as the museum soon, as it may only be able to stay open thru the end of the summer.
I do want to note some creative measures the museum is taking in reaching out to the public for support; including a link on the CRRA website to donate to the Garbage Museum, become a fan of the museum on Facebook, and a link to the Save the Stratford, CT Garbage Museum blog. With regard to the blog, of particular signfiicance is the mention of local high school students who created a video helping to “spread the word” about the importance and current struggles of the museum.