The National Galleries of Scotland announced on Monday that they would no longer host the annual BP Portrait Award exhibition. The 10th edition of the exhibition is scheduled to open on the 7th of December, though according to the Scottish museum group, it will be the last. London’s National Portrait Gallery has run the award for 30 years, and a show of entries has toured to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for the past decade. The decision comes at a time when taking a stance on climate change and partnering with an oil giant are seen as conflicting interests.
The National Galleries of Scotland released a statement on Monday saying:
At the National Galleries of Scotland we recognise that we have a responsibility to do all we can to address the climate emergency. For many people, the association of this competition with BP is seen as being at odds with that aim. Therefore, after due consideration, the Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland have decided that this will be the last time that the galleries will host this exhibition in its present form.
Earlier this year, 78 major U.K. artists, including five Turner Prize winners, called on London’s National Portrait Gallery to end its partnership with BP, citing climate concerns and allegations of “artwashing,” but the London institution has yet to do so. In response to the National Galleries of Scotland taking a stance, the National Portrait Gallery told The Art Newspaper:
We respect the National Galleries of Scotland’s decision and we are grateful for all the support they’ve given to the award over the years. [. . .] We are currently considering options for our annual competitions when the building in London temporarily closes from 29 June 2020 to spring 2023.