A flash mob invaded the British Museum in London on Sunday to protest its sponsorship by oil and gas giant BP. The demonstrators carried banners reading “end oil” and “no new BP deal”. The group were dressed in black and carrying black umbrellas, the protesters sang and performed a dramatisation of an oil spill, before sitting down on the floor in the museum’s great court in lines that formed the word “No”.
Recently, the energy giant has sponsored two major exhibitions “Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation” and “China: Journey to the East”. The British Museum, which offers free entry and is visited by almost seven million visitors a year, describes BP as its “most longstanding corporate partner”.
Last year Tate Gallery management appeared before an Information Tribunal to defend their right to withhold details of the galleries’ financial relationship with oil company and Tate sponsor BP. Richard Aydon, Tate’s Head of Legal, admitted at the time that Tate feared that “protests might intensify” if the raw facts of the sponsorship were to be revealed.
Tate went on to reveal that it received between £150,000 and £330,000 per year from BP between 1990 and 2006, a sum which represented around 0.5 percent of the institution’s annual budget. A laughably small sum of money from the global corporate giant.
Protester Yasmin de Silva, called BP “one of the dirtiest and most controversial oil companies in the world” and called their cultural sponsorship “incongruous”. de Silva who protested at Tate Britain before joining a larger protest at the museum continued, “Unfortunately, oil companies like BP are doing all they can to prevent meaningful action on climate change from taking place,” de Silva added. “Tate, the British Museum and other London cultural institutions are explicitly endorsing them in doing it.”
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