Introducing our new Environmental Action Manager


You may recall a post back in November about the new Environmental Action Manager role at Manchester Museum. The role is partly funded by the Roots and Branches project; a unique collaboration between The Carbon Literacy Project, Museum Development North West and Manchester Museum, and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. We are delighted to welcome Hannah Hartley to the museum, who started her new role as Environmental Action Manager at the end of March. In this post, Hannah introduces herself and describes how her previous experience and interests led her toward this exciting new role at Manchester Museum.

Hello, I’m Hannah. I’ve recently joined Manchester Museum as Environmental Action Manager, a role that will work across all areas of the museum to drive forward our ambitions in environmental thinking and action; establishing best practices and building on the museum’s rich experience in developing narratives and programming in response to the climate and ecological crisis. It’s a newly created position within the museum with lots of scope for exploration and experimentation, and a new stage for me as I realise a personal ambition to move into a fully environmentally focused role for the first time.

Woman waring a black jacket over a black and white shirt stands in front of a wall with plants growing on it
Hannah Hartley, our new Environmental Action Manager at Manchester Museum

So, how did I get here? I first came to Manchester to study History of Art, inspired by visiting museums and galleries as a child and my dad’s passion as an artist and art teacher. Aside from the occasional dabble in photography, I’ve never had the ambition (or skill) to pursue an artistic career but instead found myself fascinated by the ecology of people, organisations and structures that enable and inspire artists and facilitate connections with public audiences.

Since graduating I’ve worked across a diverse range of roles, art forms and organisations in Manchester including with Z-Arts, Manchester College, Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and most recently XTRAX and Without Walls – managing complex projects, looking after buildings, events, staff and volunteers, contributing to artistic and strategic development and connecting with local, national and international artists, networks and organisations.

An interest in how the arts and culture sector can respond to the climate crisis and our collective responsibility to both take and inspire positive action led me to get involved with the GMAST (Greater Manchester Arts Sustainability Team) network which brings together over 50 creative organisations across Greater Manchester (including Manchester Museum). Through GMAST I took part in the Accelerator Creative Climate Leadership programme delivered by Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England. This experience really cemented for me a need to carry this forward into my professional work – and you can read about my experience here.

Seven people sat together laughing
Attendees at Julie’s Bicycle and Arts Council England Accelerator Creative Climate Leadership programme (

When I moved to XTRAX I took the lead on defining the environmental responsibility strategy and programme across a national consortium of outdoor arts festivals called Without Walls, working alongside festival teams, local authorities, artists and other performing and live arts companies to explore innovations in outdoor arts production and touring – as well as contributing to advocacy on a national level as a representative on the Vision 2025 industry steering group. I am currently a Trainee Assessor for events with A Greener Festival, a role which will enable me to continue to support outdoor event organisers to become more sustainable.

I loved how working outdoors in public spaces can open up possibilities for reframing familiar places, connecting communities, and engaging non-traditional arts audiences; an ethos which I feel is very much at the heart of the museum’s current transformation, particularly in the new Co-working Hub for Cultural Environmental Action, that I will be helping to establish and oversee. This exploratory hub will fully embrace the civic role of the museum and convene a wide range of people and groups in dialogue and action, with an emphasis on inclusivity and cultural exchange.

A view of the top floor showing well cases either side of the long view down to the gallery below.
Manchester Museum’s Top Floor; home of the new Co-working Hub

The museum’s vision is to help build understanding between cultures and a more sustainable world and I am really looking forward to continuing to work creatively and collaboratively towards these goals. I’m discovering just how much brilliant and important work is already underway and I’m feeling so privileged to be joining a team that holds such an astounding wealth of expertise and care in this area of work (and how amazing to work alongside wonderful frogs, and Murray the therapy dog!). My vision for the role will be the connector that helps to enable and empower strategic action as the museum enters a new phase.

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