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Pakpoom Silaphan, Warhol on Coke Bottle in Coke Crate, 2013

Coke Bottle Exhibition in Finnish National Gallery Triggers Boycott, Petition

An online petition is demanding that the Sinebrychoff Art Museum in Helsinki—one of the Finnish National Galleries—put an end to its ongoing “Coca-Cola Bottle 100 years” exhibition, reports YLE. Over two hundred have already signed. Some, including Finnish art critic Otso Kantokorpi, who spearheaded the petition, are pledging to boycott the museum.

The petitioners are upset that a museum maintained by public funds would promote a global brand—especially a museum that focuses on older European art. And while museum director Kirsi Eskelinen defended the exhibition (noting the influence of Coca-Cola bottles on Warhol and other artists over the years), the petitioners pointed out the museum maintains a continuing partnership with the private company Sinebrychoff—a Nordic brewery that owns the Finnish license for Coca-Cola. Sinebrychoff Art Museum, like so many European institutions, has watched its government funding plummet in recent years. “Sinebrychoff has supported our museum for over fifteen years,” said Eskelinen. "We have had many exhibitions in which modern art and older works are in dialogue. Just because we are specialized in classical art does not mean that we can’t be in step with the times.”

Kantokorpi argued, though, that if foundering museums, watching support from the state run dry, merely revealed the truth—and left their walls bare—then policy makers would better understand the urgency of cultural funding.

Sinebrychoff is one of the four main sites that comprise the Finnish National Gallery, along with the Ateneum Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Central Art Archives.

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