In a new series, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie museums explore how climate change effects immigration | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

In a new series, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie museums explore how climate change effects immigration

“Migration is not just another movement, it changes the creature involved.”

click to enlarge A photo from Brian Cohen’s “Out of Many” exhibition - PHOTO COURTESY OF CARNEGIE NEXUS
Photo courtesy of Carnegie Nexus
A photo from Brian Cohen’s “Out of Many” exhibition

The World Bank estimates 143 million people will become “climate migrants” by the year 2050 to escape problems like crop failures, sea-level rise and water scarcity.

Carnegie Nexus, a collaboration of the four local Carnegie museums, wants people to deeply understand what this means and is creating a new event series to showcase the physical and psychological implications of human and animal migration across the planet due to climate change.

“Migration is not just another movement, it changes the creature involved,” says Edith Doron, senior program manager of Carnegie Nexus. “People could be born and raised in the same place, yet are still marked by the passage of others.”

Opening April 5, “Becoming Migrant ...What Moves You?” consists of nine events that will take place throughout the month at venues including the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater, Carnegie Lecture Hall and the New Hazlett Theater. 

Though “Becoming Migrant” doesn’t have any large-scale physical installations, several items were selected to represent the meanings of migration. For example, the naturalization certificate of Andy Warhol’s mother, Julia Warhola, will be on display at The Andy Warhol Museum.

The series will be largely events and performances, including a showing of Mali Blues, a documentary following four Malian jazz musicians who use their music as a means to fight oppression. The series will also include an April 6 conversation between the director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Eric Dorfman, and Jad Abumrad, host of NPR’s Radiolab. Also, in partnership with City of Asylum, on April 9, author Viet Thanh Nguyen will be talking about his book “The Refugees, which explores the lived experience of immigrants who have to traverse thousands of miles and many obstacles to get to their new homes.

Doron, of Carnegie Nexus, says the inspiration for the series comes from an intersection between the recent immigration policies of President Donald Trump’s administration and Pittsburgh’s history as a hub for immigrants. According to U.S. Census figures, between 2010 and 2017, the Pittsburgh area saw an increase of 27,300 residents through international migration. 

“Human migration is the defining feature of our time,” says Doron. “It’s not just a distraction or political hot topic.”

Doron wants “Becoming Migrant” to take on the idea of human influence on the environment. “One of the great segues out of ‘how do humans impact the environment?’ is the theme of migration,” says Doron. “Displacement of people isn’t talked about often with climate change.”

By bringing together artists, academics and performers, Doron hopes to spark a conversation in the community about migration’s impact. “In collaboration, we created a nimble and lovely way to create a dialogue [about migration] across the museums,” says Doron. 

Additional information, ticketing and registration can be found online at

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