The Science Museum says it will take down a placard originally created for a school climate strike after an appeal was launched. The museum’s latest exhibition, ‘Our Future Planet’, is sponsored by Shell, which has caused huge uproar with activists.
Have you ever noticed corporate sponsorships that don’t make much sense or, at the very least, come across as contradictory?
I’m talking McDonald’s sponsoring the Olympics, or Coca-Cola pumping money into the Euros. It can feel a little strange to see brands pump money into shows that are so opposed to their ideals, thereby undermining the original intent of the thing itself. Just ask Ronaldo.
Such is the case with The Science Museum’s latest exhibition focused on climate change called ‘Our Future Planet’.
Free of charge, this new exhibition explores and explains new technologies currently in development to remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. As well as showcasing fancy machinery, viewers can learn more on carbon capturing, the climate crisis in general, and read about an array of other initiatives.
Sounds great, right? There’s one small problem. It is heavily sponsored and funded by Shell, one of the biggest carbon emitters on the planet.
There has been significant backlash as a result of this financial decision. Several speakers pulled out of the climate talks back in March and Extinction Rebellion activists glued themselves to the Science Museum site at the end of August. Students also protested in June by sleeping outside the building.
Questions about the integrity of the project have been floating around ever since the sponsorship was announced.
Most recently, an open letter by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) asked for placards created in protest of the climate crisis be removed from the exhibition.
The letter, which you can read in full here, questions why the museum ‘felt it was appropriate to display placards from protests in an exhibition sponsored by Shell, one of the corporations the climate strikes were fighting against.’
The Science Museum has agreed to do so, since it did not inform the students who created the placards that their work would be used in an exhibition sponsored by Shell.
On top of all this, Channel 4 recently reported that the Science Museum had signed a gagging clause with Shell that prevents any negative information or statements being published that may damage its reputation.
Members of UKSCN also told the Guardian that the Science Museum is increasingly becoming an ‘outlier’ and alienating itself from climate activism.