Contents and structure
The pictures exhibited in the museum’s galleries combine information about specific indicators for evaluating the Sustainable Development Goals, with short tales of everyday life. A visit, illustrates two basic and inseparable facts: that everything in nature is connected so that any modification on one level affects all component parts, and that culture is the main determiner of environmental transformation for good and for bad.
The first aspect was repeatedly stated by Humboldt, the father of modern ecology, both through illustrations with comments and in writing. The beautiful note he made after his arduous climb up the 6,000 metre Chimborazo -bareback- is a precedent for current infographic representations and his conception of nature as an “intricate fabric, like a net…intertwined with a thousand threads…whose variety presents unity” is completely current.
Professor Fernando González Bernáldez repeatedly commented on the second aspect with phrases such as: “(…) There may be ecologists, botanists and zoologists naïve enough to think they can interpret current biological communities and their relationship with the environment without knowing anything about the influence and interaction of humans which leaked in and modified during long periods of time (…)”.
The main indicators used for evaluation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at its core, is a guide to tackling the world’s most pressing challenges, , but have some serious limitations, which should always be taken into account. Not all the simple indicators are available for all countries nor for all years, and many show methodological problems (from sampled population to statistical analysis). Complex indicators, which synthesise very diverse information, are useful for evaluating global advances and for ordering countries accordingly, but sometimes the combination of simple indicators used for evaluation is not sufficiently justified, such that substituting them for others that measure similar aspects can modify the global value of the complex index, changing the order in which countries appear.
The contents of the VMHE are distributed in four large exhibition spaces: Women and sustainability, The world we live in, The life cycle and temporal exhibitions, structured in rooms and then galleries. All the exhibition levels try to reflect the growing consensus among technicians, researchers and institutions about the need for biocultural and gender approaches to advance towards the ODS (sustainability objectives) proposed by the UN 2015-2030.
They review information about women as environmental managers, both from a historical point of view and with regard to their variability in modern-day populations. Limited information and occasional bias determines their frequent exclusion from three essential levels: as sustainability agents in conservation programmes and policies, as unique protagonists in programmes for sustainable promotion of the rural world, and as realities of scientific interest. They have been excluded from curricular content for the education of schoolchildren, university students and the general citizens.
The pictures come from the collection of the AEEH and the institutions, societies and private individuals with whom we have agreements. There are also some for free use. In each case, the source and ownership are specified. They may not be reproduced without the owner’s permission.
The first exhibition we have opened, Women and sustainability, keeps in mind the stated complexity and its content is divided into four rooms with a transversal gender focus: Poverty, Health, Water and Biodiversity. The division is not whimsical, but rather a response to the UN’s valuation of Spain as a country with special experience and capacity for four of the ODSs: gender, water, biodiversity and energy, around which Spain can and must offer ideas, proposals and innovative solutions, useful for other populations. The AEEH, as a member of the Network for Solutions for Sustainable Development, decided to concentrate on these aspects, allocating them a room each, or treating them transversally in all the rooms.
How to move around the exhibitions
We recommend reading the introductory texts for each of the three levels (Exhibition space, Room and Gallery) as they contain information about the collection of pictures they contain. For example, the text for the exhibition space “Women and sustainability” introduces the content of the four rooms it encompasses (Poverty, Health, Water and Biodiversity), and of the 19 galleries distributed therein. The room “Poverty” introduces the content of the five galleries included in it and that of the gallery “Measuring poverty” introduces all the pictures included in it.
The galleries exhibit a number of variable pictures, placed in a deliberate order, which it is not necessary to follow, as the footnotes for each picture is self-explanatory. The pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them so as to appreciate specific details, which is useful for teaching and educational activities we foresee.