After word spread that London’s Design Museum had hosted an event on July 17 for the Italian aerospace company Leonardo––which has been labeled as an “arms company”––more than 20 artists and organizations are demanding that the museum remove their artworks from an exhibition titled “Hope to Nope.”
The exhibition is a survey of how graphic design and technology have affected major political events over the last decade, so it may not come as a surprise that participating artists and designers have strong opinions about the museum doing business with the arms industry. The group voiced its demands in a letter addressed to the museum, which states: “Please confirm that our work will be taken down by August 1st at the latest, as our art is now being displayed in your museum without our consent.”
Another section of the letter specifies why they feel the museum hosting an arms event was an poor decision:
It is deeply hypocritical for the museum to display and celebrate the work of radical anti-corporate artists and activists, while quietly supporting and profiting from one of the most destructive and deadly industries in the world. Hope to Nope is making the museum appear progressive and cutting-edge, while its management and trustees are happy to take blood money from arms dealers.
The museum issued a statement in response to the letter, highlighting that 98 percent of the museum’s “running costs come from from admissions, retail, fundraising and event hire, such as the one hosted that night.” The statement also points out that the arms event was “a private event of which there was no endorsement by the museum.”
Nevertheless, the artists are urging the museum to develop a more ethical funding policy whereby it will refuse any payments from arms, fossil fuel, and tobacco companies. The museum’s statement explains that it is taking the artists’ demands into consideration and “reviewing our due diligence policy related to commercial and fundraising activities.”