The plan for a museum in the city that would focus on climate and climate change, with exhibits that could relate to health, social justice and rain-delayed baseball games, moved a step forward Monday, officials said.
The state Board of Regents, meeting in Albany, approved a five-year provisional charter for the museum, Regents spokesman Tom Dunn said.
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The vote means "there is absolutely going to be a museum," said Miranda Massie, executive director of the Climate Museum Launch Project. She said the museum is now "empowered to hold collections in trust for the public."
Supporters say it would be the nation's first climate museum.
The idea for the museum came to Massie, a former public-interest lawyer, after Superstorm Sandy, she said.
"It seemed like such an obvious thing for us as a city and a people to have," she said. "We have a museum of Tibetan art, a museum of mathematics."
The emphasis will be on solutions, not death and destruction, Massie said.
"Our point is to get people active and engaged on climate in a way that recognizes that if we come together we can solve the problem," she said.
Museum-goers will be encouraged to contribute to solutions, Massie said, "from half an hour of making phone calls to taking a semester off college to reduce the carbon footprint of a middle school."
"We have to act quickly and we have to keep it up for the long term," she said.
Massie acknowledges that not everyone accepts climate change as a fact but says all are welcome.
"You can be skeptical, but if you come in with an open mind you can be a part of a climate-engaged population," she said.
It may be five or six years before a grand opening at some new building in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but Massie said the museum will be in front of the public much earlier with pop-up exhibits and education programs. An "interim museum" could be in place in 2½ years, she said.
"All of that will test ideas and build momentum," she said.
Also on the short-term agenda is a design competition for the eventual museum space, even before a site has been found.
But the next step after Monday's Regents approval is some fundraising, she said.