What if museums and society were forced to confront their role in climate change?

Elephant in the Room


( Exhibit )

The American Museum of Natural History in New York contains one of the most famous displays of stuffed animals in the world. In the ‘Hall of African Mammals’, a herd of eight elephants is mounted and arranged as if ready to charge out of the museum. Elephant in the Room is an animated film that imagines what would happen if the matriarch of this herd came to life and stampeded through the streets of New York to demand climate action.

For the elephant, this means questioning the carbon intensive activities of the museum as well as the sources of money that support such work. By taking this message to the streets of the city, the elephant underlines the important role museums have to play in wider calls for climate justice.

At the same time, the film reminds us that museums are not innocent spaces of collection and display. They represent the world in ways that often produce or perpetuate division and inequality. This includes separating humans from nature, a rift that lies at the heart of the climate crisis. In this sense, the elephant represents the planet as a whole, warning us not to continue on this destructive path.

Elephant in the Room is narrated by Donna Haraway.

Initial concept drawings for Elephant in the Room

Project Team
Design Earth: Rania Ghosn, El Hadi Jazairy, Monica Hutton, Anhong Li
Project Name
Elephant in the Room
Team Location
New York, USA