Museum Sponsorship

Despite increasing criticism, some of the UK's leading cultural institutions still accept Big Oil sponsorship. From the Science Museum in London to the Aberdeen Art Gallery, logo placement and exhibition naming rights are only the most visible benefits fossil fuel companies can enjoy in exchange for a relatively small investment. The less visible benefits - including potential influence over museum messaging and content - are why we're keeping track.

Image: Pixaby License

By Guest • Friday, December 6, 2019 - 14:38
smoking cigarette

By Chris Garrard, member of campaign group Art Not Oil

It’s crunch time for the climate. But as delegates gather in Madrid for the latest round of UN Climate Talks, there’s still a major obstacle that needs to be tackled: the greenwash and spin of the fossil fuel industry.

Oil and gas giants such as BP, Shell and Exxon have known about the role fossil fuels play in driving global temperature rise for decades. But, instead of taking the action we urgently need and shifting their business away from fossil fuels, they have spent millions mounting misleading PR campaigns to just give the impression that they are. And even now, many of these fossil fuel firms plan to ramp up production. BP alone plans to boost its production of fossil fuels by 20 percent over the next 10 years.

By Richard Collett... • Wednesday, October 2, 2019 - 20:00

The UK’s Science Museum and oil giant BP are increasingly concerned about criticism of their ongoing partnership, email correspondence seen by DeSmog suggests.

The news comes as the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre announce they will be ending their partnerships with BP and Shell, respectively.

By Richard Collett... • Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 08:05
Natural History Museum

Ever wondered what a major donation to one of London’s premier cultural institutions might buy you? Well, quite a bit, it turns out.

And the case of Sir Michael Hintze, the UK’s third richest hedge fund manager and known funder of climate science denial, is no exception, emails seen by DeSmog show.

Hintze, a prominent Conservative Party donor and Brexit backer, helps fund the UK’s principal climate science denial thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), set up a decade ago by former Chancellor and Conservative peer Nigel Lawson

Email correspondence obtained by campaign group Culture Unstained shines a light on Hintze’s close relationships with the publicly-funded Natural History Museum and National Portrait Gallery.

By Guest • Monday, July 22, 2019 - 15:09
Protest against BP at the British Museum

By Jess Worth, Co-Director of campaign group Culture Unstained

Why do Big Oil companies sponsor some of the UK’s most prominent cultural institutions? Because it gives them PR that advertising dollars simply can’t buy.

Never was that more obvious than on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight last week, where British Museum chair Sir Richard Lambert quipped “I don't want to do a PR job for BP”, then proceeded to do just that.

By Guest • Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 16:56

This is a guest post by Chris Garrard, Co-Director of Culture Unstained, a campaign group raising awareness of fossil fuel company sponsorship of the arts.

Last week wasn’t the best week for the reputation of oil giant BP. Greenpeace activists blockaded BP’s head office in London, shareholders took the company to task at its AGM in Aberdeen and protestors vocally declared the meeting “a crime scene“ as they were roughly dragged out by security. And on Friday, the biggest climate strike yet took place with young people leading protests in more than 1,400 cities across some 110 countries.

But if you caught the news last Thursday, there was a very different story being told about BP, with the oil giant being celebrated as a champion of the arts – with the company paying £1 million for a series of “BP Galleries” to be named after the firm as part of a major redevelopment of the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

By Mat Hope • Friday, October 5, 2018 - 07:34
Science Museum

The Science Museum continues to pursue a close relationship with fossil fuel companies despite campaigners’ repeated calls for the companies to be dropped as sponsor due to their contribution to climate change, emails obtained through a freedom of information request reveal.

The disclosure, obtained by campaign group Culture Unstained, comes two weeks before the start of Manchester Science Festival, where Shell is controversially sponsoring an exhibition. A low carbon NGO has already cut ties with the festival in protest at the deal.

By Mat Hope • Wednesday, September 19, 2018 - 12:50
Shell emails

Museum officials are failing to engage with climate concerns when choosing sponsors for major events, new documents reveal.

Campaigners say this means publicly-funded institutions continue to pick sponsors that are “at odds with the museum’s values as a scientific institution”.

By Mat Hope • Monday, September 3, 2018 - 09:34
Shell pump with climate crisis tape

Manchester’s Museum of Science and Innovation prioritised Shell as an exhibition sponsor despite climate-focused partners objecting to the agreement, emails newly released after a freedom of information request show.

The exhibition, Electricity: The Spark of Life, will run for six months as part of the Manchester Science Festival. It will be sponsored by Shell UK, North West Electricity, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Shell’s sponsorship of the exhibition is controversial, but not unusual. The company has corporate partnerships with the Science Museum, Southbank Centre and National Theatre. As DeSmog UK reported at the time, campaigners were “hugely disappointed” at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry's decision to follow suit.

By Mat Hope • Thursday, August 9, 2018 - 16:35
Shell logo evil

They’re at it again.

Despite campaigners’ repeated calls for publicly-funded museums to drop controversial commercial deals, the Museum of Science and Industry has agreed a deal with fossil fuel giant Shell to sponsor a new exhibition, DeSmog UK can reveal.

The exhibition, Electricity: The Spark of Life will run for six months, as part of the Manchester Science Festival. It will be sponsored by Shell UK, North West Electricity, and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Campaigners said they were “hugely disappointed” at the museum’s decision.

To see details of more fossil fuel company sponsorships, check out our Greenwash Database

By Mike Small • Tuesday, July 3, 2018 - 16:40

A group of leading climate scientists, academics and environmentalists have lodged a formal complaint with the Science Museum over their partnerships with big oil companies. They accuse the museum of “undermining its integrity as a scientific institution” by partnering with BP, Shell and Statoil despite their continued contribution to climate change.  

It’s a further PR blow to the oil industry, which is facing huge credibility problems as they refuse to adjust their business models in the face of the looming climate crisis.