Hundreds of museums across the UK are joining forces to “change children’s awareness and understanding of biodiversity loss”.
Launched on Tuesday (January 24) by the UK’s leading arts charity, the Art Fund, The Wild Escape will see participation from 500 institutions, marking the largest collaboration ever between British museums.
The Wild Escape hopes to inspire children across the country to visit museums and respond creatively to the threat to the UK’s natural environment. Children will be encouraged to search for animals in museum collections and to create their own wildlife art.
Their artwork will then come to life in a large-scale, immersive exhibition, unveiled on Earth Day (April 22) 2023.
The Wild Escape is inspired by the upcoming BBC One show wild islands series, which will be hosted by Sir David Attenborough. It is in partnership with BBC Bitesize, the free study resource for students, which will present films showing an artist creating an animal-inspired work in UK museum collections.
Artists participating in the initiative include FKA Twigs, Es Devlin, Heather Phillipson, Rana Begum, Mollie Ray, Yika Shonibare, Tai Shani, Mark Wallinger, Angela Palmer and Claire Twomey.
Jenny Waldman, director of the Art Fund, said The Wild Escape hopes to educate children and increase their awareness and understanding of biodiversity loss, which is “one of the defining challenges of our lives.”
“The Wild Escape is a novelty. We want to show how museums, working together, can bring a new angle to learning, especially in welcoming children’s creative responses to our great collections,” Waldman said.
According to a report by the Environment Agency, published in July 2022, England is one of the countries in the world with the greatest scarcity of nature.
A quarter of mammals in England and nearly a fifth of UK plants face the threat of extinction. Meanwhile, a third of British pollinator species have declined.
The project is in association with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the National Trust and English Heritage. It is one of the largest museum projects ever funded by the Arts Council for England.
Rosalind Mist, WWF’s director of education and youth management, said: “It’s not too late to turn things around, and young people are key to shaping the nature of the natural world.”
The Wild Escape is open to all elementary school age children to participate from now through July.