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Some 300 activists gathered at the British Museum on Saturday, February 16, to rally against BP’s sponsorship of Iraqi artifacts. Photo: Safa Kadhim.

British Museum to Continue Accepting BP Oil Money

As the public continues to turn a critical eye toward the sources of art institutions’ funding, London’s British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said that the institution would continue to accept funding from its longtime sponsor BP, reports the Art Newspaper.

BP has helped the museum “create learning opportunities,” Fischer said at a Monday press briefing, and added, “this sort of support is vital to [the British Museum’s] mission.”

The oil giant will sponsor the exhibition “Troy, Myth and Reality,” slated to open in November, though the director noted BP will not fund a forthcoming show dedicated to the people of the Arctic.

In February, more than three hundred activists, lead by the activist group BP or not BP?, staged one of the largest protests against oil sponsorship at the British Museum. One of the organization’s spokespersons, Helen Glynn, said at the time that the sponsorship deal allows the oil company to be “a good corporate citizen when in fact it is one of the most destructive companies in the world.”

Last week, seventy-eight artists including Sarah Lucas, Allen Jones, and Anish Kapoor signed an open letter condemning London’s National Portrait Gallery for accepting BP funding for the museum’s annual BP Portrait Award.

“Hartwig Fischer has just placed himself firmly on the wrong side of history,” BP or not BP? told Artnews. “It is only by shunning and delegitimizing BP and a handful of other mega-powerful oil companies that we will ever reduce their influence enough to truly transition away from dirty energy. Until the British Museum accepts that, it will remain complicit in the unfolding climate disaster that threatens the very civilizations Fischer claims to be in the business of preserving and understanding.”