The torsos of two people holding glass jars filled with dirt and a small plant.

Sustainability at Mia

From low-energy lighting to materials reuse to rain gardens, Mia is committed to environmental sustainability in accordance with its mission to preserve the beauty and wonder of the world for future generations.

As a leader in sustainable museum practices, Mia promotes innovation, creativity, and curiosity as the ultimate renewable resources, the means to unlocking new solutions. Read on to learn more about sustainability at Mia, from LED lighting to beekeeping—or download the summary.


Sustainability in the galleries and art handling

LED gallery lights: In 2011 and 2012, Mia replaced 2,908 halogen lamps in its third-floor galleries with LED lamps, which use about two-thirds less electricity. The new LED lamps are also better for the art as they don’t produce potentially damaging ultraviolet or infrared radiation. In 2013, the museum completed a similar swap in its second and first floor galleries and expects to save an estimated 15 percent in electricity consumption throughout the museum.

Reusable shipping crates: Mia repurposes the custom-made interior padding in art shipping crates for art storage.

Reusing display and crating materials: Whenever possible, Mia reuses and recycles the building materials used to make gallery displays and shipping crates.

Dark Mondays: On Mondays, when the museum is closed, the lights are generally turned off in the galleries, resulting in significantly less electricity consumption.


Sustainable facilities

Blower motors: Mia has been replacing its 32 air-handling blower motors and 200-plus pumps with high-efficiency motors—Energy Star-certified whenever possible.

LED facilities lights: Wherever possible, Mia has replaced older building and safety lighting with newer LED lamps or fixtures, saving money, reducing the load on the museum’s emergency electrical system, and shrinking the museum’s carbon footprint.

Ionized water for cleaning: Mia’s janitorial staff has switched to ionized-water cleaning systems for many cleaning tasks, greatly reducing the number and quantity of hazardous chemicals used to keep the museum clean.

Motion-sensing lighting in public and staff spaces: Mia has installed motion-sensing lighting in storage spaces, library stacks, and restrooms to minimize light use when rooms are unoccupied.


Museum-wide recycling and consumption reduction

Single-stream recycling for staff and visitors: Single-stream, or commingled, recycling of plastic, glass, and metal increases recycling participation.

Digital annual report: Since 2010, Mia has published its annual report electronically to save printing costs, reduce waste, and reach a global audience.

Art in Bloom composting: Since 2010, Mia has made composting bags available to florists after Art in Bloom, the museum’s annual springtime event that brings hundreds of floral displays into the galleries and public spaces. In 2011, Mia sent 2,700 pounds of compost to our waste hauler’s industrial-size compost pile.

Technotrash: Because electronic waste is potentially much more damaging to the environment than conventional waste when burned or landfilled, Mia offers bins for staff and volunteers to recycle CDs, DVDs, tape media, old cell phones, and other small electronics.

Computer recycling: Computers, monitors, and printers at Mia are recycled when they’re replaced.

Electronic communications for the board of trustees and staff: Thousands of pages of paper are saved each year by sending meeting notices and other communications electronically instead of printing them.

Filtered water instead of water coolers: Mia has installed five reverse-osmosis water filtration systems in common areas for staff drinking water, reducing the need for five-gallon water coolers throughout staff areas.


Rain gardens and stormwater remediation

In 2012, Mia’s Green Team received a grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to build a rain garden and purchase native prairie plants. The garden now mitigates stormwater from one Mia-owned and one neighbor-owned parking lot as well as the roof of a museum-owned building; rainwater and melted snow from those lots filter through the roots of prairie plants on the way to the water table, instead of running unfiltered into the Mississippi River.


Green transportation incentives

Bike tool kits and pumps: In 2011 the Green Team invested in a simple tool kit and two bicycle tire pumps for museum staff and visitors to use if they need a quick repair while they’re at Mia. One pump is bolted to the concrete near the bike racks in the parking ramp, so it’s available all the time, and the other pump and the tool kit are available for checkout at the museum coat check.

Discounted bus passes: Mia offers discounted bus passes to employees to encourage alternative transportation.

Discounted bikes: Mia offers discounted employee memberships for Nice Ride, the Twin Cities’ bike-sharing program.

Bike parking: Mia has more than 50 spaces for bike parking, including racks near all three museum entrances and covered parking in the museum’s ramp.


Beehives at the museum

In 2013, Mia partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad to install four beehives on the roof of the museum. The bees prospered, becoming essential pollinators for city gardens and trees, and Mia’s “Rooftop Gold” honey collected that year from the hives sold out in the Store at Mia. In 2014, the Green Team doubled the number of hives on the roof to eight.