Artists seek to pull work from Design Museum after arms dealer reception

Robert Picheta, 25.07.2018
Museum criticised after hosting event for weapons manufacturer
Twenty-five artists and designers have written to the Design Museum demanding that their works be removed from display after it hosted a reception for one of the world’s largest arms manufacturers.
 
The signatories, including the designers Jonathan Barnbrook and Peter Kennard and the group Occupy London, all have work featured in the museum’s Hope to Nope exhibition, which celebrates political protest over the past decade.

The letter reads: “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.

It adds: “We therefore request that our artwork be immediately removed from the exhibition… We will not associate our names and our work with an institution that actively supports the arms industry.

The letter asks for featured work to be removed by 1 August, adding: “Our art is now being displayed in your museum without our consent.”

It also urges the museum to adopt a new policy which refuses any funds from arms, tobacco and fossil fuel companies, adding: “Once this is in place, we would consider working with the museum again.”
 
The museum hosted an evening reception for Leonardo, the ninth largest defence contractor in the world, on 17 July.
 
The move was criticised by the group Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and a petition set up by the group has received more than 2,400 online signatures in the past week.
 
A spokesman for CAAT said: “A lot of artists and designers have been rightly appalled by the museum's decision.”
 
He added: “The Design Museum is a prestigious and highly regarded museum, which is why Leonardo wanted to host the event there. Museums are meant to be places for learning and showcasing great work, not promotional vehicles for arms companies.
 
“By hosting them the museum is giving practical support to an industry that profits from war and conflict around the world.”
 
The reception was held during the Farnborough Airshow, which features a major trade exhibition for aerospace and defence companies alongside its public displays.
 
The Design Museum did not respond to a request for comment regarding the letter, but had previously confirmed it is reviewing its policies following the initial criticism.
 
A statement from the museum earlier this week said: “As a charity, 98% of the museum’s running costs come from admissions, retail, fundraising and event hire, such as the one hosted that night. This was a private event of which there was no endorsement by the museum.
 
“The Design Museum is committed to achieving its charitable objective to advance the education of the public in the study of all forms of design and architecture and is thus a place of debate that, by definition, welcomes a plurality of voices and commercial entities.
 
“However, we take the response to Tuesday’s event seriously and we are reviewing our due diligence policy related to commercial and fundraising activities.”

Comments

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26.07.2018, 11:54
I agree with the actions of the designers who have asked for their exhibits to be removed from the' Hope to Nope ' exhibition. The Design Museum is using funding from the arms trade to fill the museum coffers and, as such , are profiting from the death and destruction of the world's most vulnerable communities. It IS hypocritical in my humble opinion. The Arms Trade is a filthy business and don't be taken in by the British government's mantra that our arms trade is very careful about where in the world the arms are utilised. Thankyou to the 25 designers who have taken this step and pulled out of exhibiting.
26.07.2018, 10:54
Wait..so a starving vegan me cannot eat bacon when that's one of the few options left available to me during World War III? . (Sorry..the funding situation of museums feel like we in WWIII ration times).
Museums are carrying a begging bowl now. Any money coming in legally is welcome.The Leonardo event was a private affair, and not an exhibition that the museum had put up. It had nothing to do with the museum's ideology.
I agree with the artists having their say about what they feel about the event, they could have turned it around in some creative way rather than accuse the museum of being a hypocrite.Will they call the museum a hypocrite too if the museum shows the fantastic and deadly design of an AK 47 and the rest of the rifles etc that are produced? Does that make the museum bad?
Given that thought... any vehicle or transport museum will not exist if they had to say that their collection had to be free from weapon connections. Volvo, Subaru, Hyundai, just to name a few. Add in Thyssenkrup - steel used for cars and weapons.. Am just saying....

Oh..btw.. feed me bacon and I'm yours forever.
Anonymous
26.07.2018, 12:01
I hardly think the situation is that bad!
Anonymous
26.07.2018, 10:20
Quite right too, there is far too much of this happening in our sector, unfortunately most of it is unreported'

The response of the Museum ('there was no endorsement by the museum') is pathetic, by accepting this booking, it is showing support.
Anonymous
25.07.2018, 18:53
Is charging a business for room hire 'giving practical support to an industry that profits from war and conflict around the world'? Hardly.

Lenin and Trotsky were quite open when they said they would take money from capitalists in order to further the interests of the communist revolution. A century later, the Design Museum could make a very similar case.
Anonymous
26.07.2018, 10:25
I doubt that Lenin and Trotsky would take money from companies who trade with countries with “human rights abusing regimes and dictatorships” including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Philippines.