Jul 23
British Museum workers came out in support of a trustee who resigned.
The British Museum. Photo by Ham, via Wikimedia Commons.

The British Museum. Photo by Ham, via Wikimedia Commons.

British Museum workers have come out in support of Ahdaf Soueif, the former museum trustee who resigned from her position earlier this month in protest. The museum staffers, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union, released a statement in solidarity with Soueif, in which they voiced their objections to the British Museum’s ongoing sponsorship agreement with oil giant BP (one of three critical issues Soueif cited as having informed her decision).

In their statement, the PCS Union members wrote:

Through its sponsorship of our most prestigious cultural institutions, BP is allowed to propagate the myth that, without its existence, we would not have access to the collections of our publicly funded museums and galleries. [. . .] The British Museum aims “to hold for the benefit and education of humanity a collection representative of world cultures.” Its association with BP is not compatible with this objective when the collection is being used to greenwash the activities of a company whose actions threaten lives the world over, both now and in the future.

BP has been a sponsor of the British Museum since 1996, and that relationship has in turn been the focus of protests organized by environmental activists since at least 2012. Last year, a new sponsorship agreement between BP and four cultural organizations came into effect, which will see the oil giant sponsor activities at the British Museum through 2023, according to a recent report by The Art Newspaper. According to TAN, British Museum director Hartwig Fischer said: “This sort of support is vital.”

Meanwhile, the Tate museums group—which ended its decades-long sponsorship agreement with BP in 2017—declared a climate emergency last week.