#MuseumWeek special: British Museum’s BP secrets revealed & more

27 Mar 2015 anna

The latest just in:

British Museum’s BP secrets revealed

BP Or Not BP? detective flashmob at British Museum. Credit: Kristian Buus
BP Or Not BP? detective flashmob at British Museum. Credit: Kristian Buus

BP Or Not BP? forced British Museum to reveal: BP sponsorship was just £596,000 per year from 2000- 2011 – around 0.8% of the Museum’s income. The figures were revealed under Freedom Of Information Act, just a few weeks after we forced Tate to admit that BP’s contribution to the gallery’s budget was just around 0.5% and actually diminished proportionally since 1990.

Cherri Foytlin, Gulf Coast resident and mother of six, comments on the disclosures:

Scientists recently discovered a 10 million gallon mat of BP’s oil on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico – a mat the size of Rhode Island. They called it a ‘conduit of contamination into the food web.’ That is the same food web that all humankind depends on to sustain life. BP is a criminal against all humankind, and so is any entity that harbours such a criminal. It is time for humanity to stand together and push out all who seek to destroy us. The British Museum must decide exactly whose side it is on – BP’s or the world’s?

Art sponsorship is BP’s cultural clean-up: it enables the company – for tiny amounts of money! –  to go on destroying livelihoods and our climate. Read more from Cherri Foytlin and Karen Savage on the links between BP’s crimes in the Gulf and its artwash here in Picture This.

The ‘actorvists’ at BP Or Not BP? have called for a “detective flashmob” at the British Museum this Sunday. 200 people will dress up as their favourite detectives and track down “dastardly corporate criminal” BP inside the Museum.


In other news this week:

Top scientists call on US science museums to drop oil magnate David Koch

Dozens of top scientists including Nobel laureates have published an open letter to museums of science and natural history calling on them to drop links with fossil fuels. Oil magnate David Koch is on the boards of (and a headline sponsor of) the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and the American Museum of Natural History.

The letter says,

As members of the scientific community we devote our lives to understanding the world, and sharing this understanding with the public. We are deeply concerned by the links between museums of science and natural history with those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that misrepresent climate science.

You can sign the accompanying petition to kick Koch off museum boards. In an animation released alongside the letter, The Natural History Museum addresses museums:

When David Koch sponsors you…
…you sponsor David Koch.

Dear Tate, British Museum, Royal Opera House, and National Portrait Gallery,

When BP sponsors you, you sponsor BP.


And finally,

Ex- Science Museum director calls for fossil fuel divestment

In the UK, senior scientists have called on health charities Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust to shift their money out of fossil fuels. Among the backers of the Guardian campaign is Chris Rapley, former director of the Science Museum, who called the charities’ position as fossil fuel investors “fundamentally inconsistent”. He said

We have to confront our own inconsistencies. Either they accept the argument that we need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels or they don’t. It’s highly symbolic when charities like this make a stand.

Only back in October, Rapley had defended his former workplace’s sponsorship relationship with Shell, saying

It is all too easy to demonise the oil companies, but demanding this kind of disengagement is just too simplistic.

We can only hope that Chris Rapley will confront this particular inconsistency head on and join the call for museums to drop links with fossil fuel corporations.

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