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Jake Barton

Emerson Collective Fellowship

Creating immersive experiences designed to change hearts and minds—and inspire action on climate change.

Headshot of Jake Barton

Jake Barton designs museum experiences that bring to life complex topics. His team at Local Projects has created joyful experiences—like Planet Word, the first “voice-activated museum,” and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, which turns visitors into designers themselves. It has also created raw and searing experiences—the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the Legacy Museum.

Over the past two years, Barton and his team partnered with social scientists at Princeton and Loyola Marymount University to begin to understand how and why audiences sometimes leave exhibits feeling different—and acting differently, too. Now, he’s ready to apply those insights to the climate crisis. 

As an Emerson Collective Fellow, Barton will build new, climate-related immersive experiences that not only entertain, but also inspire audiences to take climate action. “Climate change is not a crisis of science or engineering,” he says. “Climate change is a crisis of storytelling and emotion.”

For instance, Barton has been invited to create Birdsong Immersive, based on The Birdsong Project, which was launched by music supervisor Randall Poster, with music from Beck, Elvis Costello, Mark Ronson, and, in total, 176 artists. The immersive will invite each visitor to connect with a bird whose call sounds like their name. With this and other new experiences in development, Barton’s goal is to change the behavior of guests.