Story at a glance

  • The Guggenheim Bilbao reopened on June 1 after shutting its door in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The art museum has recently launched a campaign that includes air purifying banners placed around the city, with one even wrapping the entirety of a local tram.
  • The treatment is based on the natural process of photocatalysis, which leads to a purifying effect similar to that of trees.

In an effort to contribute to the green movement, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, recently invested in some interesting outdoor advertising. 

The new campaign centers around promotion of a freshly installed Olafur Eliasson exhibition to the museum — an artist who aims to expose “some of today’s most urgent issues” to museum-goers, asking them to reflect on their understanding of the environment through the use of natural materials such as moss, fog and glacial ice.

Promotion of the exhibit has taken the form of banners placed in front of the museum and around the city of Bilbao. But these aren’t just your average, run-of-the-mill banners, as they have been treated with a special coating called Pureti Print, which essentially turns them into active air purifiers. Utilizing a natural process called photocatalysis, the treatment allows the banners to purify the air in a similar way that trees might: a chemical reaction triggered by sunlight which turns oxygen and water vapor in the air into cleaning agents of pollutants, as well as bacteria, mold and bad odors.

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The technology was developed in collaboration with NASA and first used in Spain in 2015 for a Shiseido cosmetics ad campaign in Madrid. According to the museum the new ad campaign has an air-purifying effect comparable to more than 700 trees, with about 3 square feet of Pureti Print possessing the equivalent purifying effect of about one adult tree.


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The director general of the museum, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, told Conde Nast Traveler that he sees the campaign as part of its larger commitment to combat climate change. “Just as we are cutting down power consumption thanks to the change of the lighting systems in the museum galleries, the possibility of purifying the air while acquainting our audiences with our art program was a great chance.”

According to Vidarte, the museum has also focused on other efforts to maximize their sustainability, such as recycling materials used to install exhibitions and replacing a traditional lighting system with LED lights. 

Once the banners come down following the end of Eliasson’s exhibition, they’ll also be given a new life, as they’ll be donated to local charity Emaús Bilbao, which will reclaim them as accessories such as purses, bags and aprons — the revenue from which will go toward social uses.

Though Pureti Print isn’t yet used widely, its future potential is seemingly endless, as an increasing amount of construction materials continue to be tested for effectiveness as a base for the green technology. Some that already have been proven to work alongside the titanium dioxide nanoparticle-based treatment are textiles, cardboard, canvas and aluminum.

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Published on Jul 29, 2020