Campaigners ramp up pressure on Science Museum to reject fossil fuel sponsorship

As climate change groups hail victory at British Museum

Campaigners fighting for an end to fossil fuel sponsorship of cultural institutions are directing their energy towards the Science Museum now, having hailed a ‘massive victory’ last week with the British Museum.  

Sponsorship by the oil giant BP of the British Museum has ended, it was announced last Friday, which marked a huge step in bringing an almost complete end to the fossil fuel company’s influence in the British art world.

The campaign organisation Culture Unstained has since called on the British Museum to confirm that they will not sign any future partnerships with fossil fuel producers, and to remove BP’s name from its lecture theatre.

In a statement following the withdrawal of BP sponsorship at the British Museum, Sarah Waldron, Co-director of Culture Unstained, said ending the sponsorship was a ‘huge opportunity for the museum to seize the moment and finally demonstrate climate leadership’.

The oil company had been a donor to the art institution for 27 years. As well as The British Museum, BP had previously sponsored The Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House and National Portrait Gallery, however the campaign group Culture Unstained said that, thanks to activism, all these deals have been ended.

Only the Science Museum is still supported by BP in the funding for its educational academy, however the group is now directing their energy to put pressure on the insitution to join the other cultural centres and end their sponsorship.

Campaigners have highlighted that the popular London museum is sponsored by oil and gas firms BP and the Norweigan state oil company Equinor, as well as the coal-producing conglomerate Adani. Fossil Free Parliament, a climate change campaign group, stated that the Science Museum’s “Wonderlab” is sponsored and named after Equinor.

Recent action by climate activists saw them attend the annual Science Museum Directors Dinner in May, where they greeted guests by calling out the museum’s fossil fuel sponsors outside the main entrance.

The Science Museum has come up against a series of protests against their sponsorship deals over the years, including last year when the museum was forced to cancel an event last minute after two scientists pulled out in protest.

One of the professors who refused to attend the event announced on Twitter: “I am sadly no longer taking part in the event tomorrow night to protest the management decision to continue accepting sponsorship from fossil fuel companies.”

Culture Unstained made a Tweet yesterday stating, ‘the culture sector in the UK has now largely rejected fossil fuel sponsorship…except…the science museum’, directing attention to their new climate gallery, which will be sponsored by none other than Adani, the company with stakes in coal mines.

(Photo credit: Creative Commons / Flickr)

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