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Museums as drivers for urban sustainability

By Platform

The Policy Learning Platform received a helpdesk request to provide knowledge and good practices on the topic of museums as drivers for urban sustainability development, with particular focus on gardens and smart energy.

Our Thematic Expert for environment and resource efficiency, Astrid Severin, provided a list of various good practices from seven Interreg Europe projects that focus on policies related to the topic.

Interreg Europe projects and good practices


The Turaida Museum reserve (Latvia) is a good practice that has been good identified by the CHRISTA project. The Museum reserve is the second most visited touristic object outside Riga covering over 43 ha and featuring rich archaeological, architectural and art monuments. One of the objectives of the Turaida Museum reserve is to preserve and hand over to the future generations tangible and intangible cultural heritage through different tools and activities such as a folk-song garden, an international folklore festival as well as Summer Solstice celebrations and campaigns.

The mission of the Ecomuseu de Ribeira da Pena (Portugal) – put forward by the KEEP ON project - is also to preserve, promote and popularise such heritage to the benefit of the community and a growing number of visitors. The Ecomuseu plays a central role in animating the local cultural life by proposing events and educational experiences.

One of the highlights of the Ecomuseu is the ‘Museu do Linho’, a space dedicated to showcasing the art of crafting flax, a traditional activity in the villages of Cerva and Limões, where a women cooperative of weavers is established. The weavers hold flax craft workshops and sell their products directly in the ERDF co-financed museum: a win-win solution showing how much the cultural heritage and local sustainable development are inextricably interlinked.

The award winning Ecomuseum Batana (Croatia) identified by the CD-ETA project started as a project addressing the need of safeguarding Rovinj’s local maritime heritage with special attention to its boatbuilding tradition but aware of the interconnection between tangible and intangible heritage and the multiplicity of cultural expressions. The main elements of the maritime experience are a central interpretation and documentation centre with a permanent exhibition, a local tavern, a little shipyard and a regatta of traditional wooden boats. In addition, two thematic routes have been conceived that allow visitors to explore the cultural heritage.

The project Cult-CreaTE has highlighted a campaign launched by the Municipality of Pécs (Hungary) to revitalise Cultural and Creative Tourism under Covid-19. The #PécsNyitva (#PécsisOpen) campaign aimed to mobilise SMEs active in local tourism and to develop package deals and safe programs for the visitors. More than 90 SMEs (including CCIs) have been involved in the action. The campaign focused on the presentation, revitalisation, active involvement and experience-oriented programs of gastronomy, hospitality, cultural and creative industry. CCT programs included light painting on Museum Street, concerts, dance houses, reading park, summer theatre (pop up stages, flash mob), giant puppets and family craft workshops.

Dark skies and smart energy solutions

The Night Light project has also looked at nature-friendly lighting of natural heritage sites such as churches, castles and museums so that their illumination becomes more cost-effective and reduces the negative consequences for humans and animals who have adapted to the rhythmic exchange of light and darkness.

Lighting of cultural objects is a particular problem as much of the conventional lighting goes past the facade into the sky where no one needs it. In Slovenia, they have used a new lighting system that is not only friendlier to nightlife, but also less wasteful. At the initial illumination, up to 80% of the light was passed past the facade into the sky and the surrounding area. With the system, the light beam was reduced to about 2% and the brightness of the facades of the buildings has decreased. In addition, electricity consumption decreased by an average of 65%, in some cases up to 90%.

This is a smart energy solution for cultural buildings which can be used at the same time to offer opportunities for a new tourist experience. The Province of Friesland in the Netherlands for example was also determined to reduce light pollution and used their efforts to protect dark skies offers as an opportunity for sustainable economic development and positioned dark sky areas as an asset to develop new eco-tourism services.

You can read how the Province developed the project ‘Dark Sky Experiences’ (2020-2023) that allows residents and tourists to experience the core quality of darkness at the Wadden Sea World Heritage in our star gazing story.


Sustainable garden projects have also been featured by Interreg Europe projects. In the CityZen project, several European communities are collaborating to boost urban farming. You can find several examples for urban gardens within the project's good practices.

Two examples are:

  • The Portuguese Municipality of Beja explored the possibilities of urban farming to engage it citizens in participatory processes and to create a sense of community and belonging whilst the municipality provides continuous monitoring and maintenance of the urban farm through the creation of a dedicated support structure. Today, Beja can count on more than 60 horticulturists who are collaborating in the urban gardens.
  • The Educational Farm RhineMain in Darmstadt (Germany) is a creative place to learn about food cultivation and animal husbandry at any time of the year. Since 1999, it aims at a better understanding of local, peri-urban food production and agriculture and had 75,000 visitors in the last 20 years. The main activity of the mixed farm (arable crops, cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, chicken) is education. Visitors (school and kindergarden children, tourists) participate in hands-on activities on modern and old cultivation methods. All educational activities are prepared and carried out by the farmers, e.g. the information trail, a walk-in “hamster castle” or the demonstration and project area. With a training room and kitchen, it is well-suited for project-oriented group work.

Last but not least, the UL2L project is putting forward the new Health garden in Kristianstad (Sweden) which has been installed into a traditional inner-city park and is managed by the city administration. It was constructed between 2012 and 2014 as an initiative by the municipality in close cooperation with local organisations and NGOs to include special needs groups in a health preventive activity and increase their well-being. It consists of a garden area with, among other things, perennials, greenhouses, animals and an orangery. Everything grown is organic and sustainable. The Health Garden was a response to changed user demand on public space and substanitally improved this green urban environment, the number and satifaction of visitors. It ensures that this green environment will be kept for the people and the nature and as an important element in the city's green network.

Want to know more?

Besides the aforementioned good practices, you may be also interested in exploring the conclusions of the workshop ‘Developing healthy and prosperous urban ecosystems’ and the output of the online meeting ‘Tourism and Cultural and Creative Industries in the post COVID19 period’. You could also consider looking at our recent policy briefs



Other Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform activities

We offer two services that might be of interest to respond to policy challenges related to museums as drivers for urban sustainability, the matchmaking sessions and the peer reviews:

  • Matchmaking sessions are two-hour meetings, online or face-to-face. They are designed to bring together a group of policymakers having the expertise and competence to discuss your particular question. For two hours, they are at your disposal to discuss your challenge and offer solutions.
  • Peer-reviews are two-day meetings, online or face-to-face, involving an international team of experts and peers. Based on your specific needs and challenges, peers selected carefully on the basis of targeted calls among the community members, share their expertise for your benefit. After a thorough analysis of your policy context, they provide targeted feedback and offer concrete solutions to you and your stakeholders.

In this 


 you can discover opinions of our beneficiaries about our services, including matchmakings and peer reviews.

Smart energy systems
Light pollution
Urban area
Sustainable development