A postcard from the stunt. Photo: Clean Money Project.

Group Takes to Natural History Museum Gift Shop to Protest Science-Denier Trustee

In an effort to pressure the American Museum of Natural History to cut ties with billionaire climate-change denier Rebekah Mercer, a New York–based group known as Clean Money Project stocked the museum's gift shop with a line of fake products and displayed ersatz exhibit signs on Monday. Since January, hundreds of scientists have called for the unseating of Mercer, a museum board member who has funded climate-change denial campaigns and who helped back Donald Trump’s presidential run.

The fake products included postcards with Mercer’s face and the words “climate change denier and museum board member,” a 2019 calendar bearing images of smokestacks, and a home fracking set for children. The group also left framed signs announcing a new “Breitbart evolution wing” sponsored by Mercer, as well as a Koch Enterprises–backed “fossil-fuel appreciation wing.” In 2015, former museum board member David Koch—whose involvement in energy businesses drew heavy criticism from activists and scientists—left the board after his term expired. Nearly thirty tenured curators within the museum have also challenged Mercer's position on the board.

Mercer has been a trustee since 2013 and has donated $4.1 million to the museum through her family's foundation. In that same span of time, she has given nearly $5.9 million to the Heartland Institute, which promotes forums for climate-change skeptics. The foundation has given large donations to several other organizations that challenge scientific consensus as well. “We want Rebekah Mercer off the board, and we do think the Natural History Museum is complicit in allowing these people to be two-faced,” an anonymous source told Alexander C. Kaufman of the Huffington Post. “They’re giving them credibility when they are spending much more money battling science and undermining science.”