British Museum invaded by “BP Vikings”

Gwendolyn Smith, 29.04.2014
Protest group campaigns against sponsorship by oil company
A theatrical protest group staged a flashmob performance in the British Museum on Sunday to challenge oil company BP’s sponsorship of the current Vikings exhibition.

The performance by the Reclaim Shakespeare Company included a choir singing a version of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries and a satirical sketch featuring a group of “BP Vikings”.

Westley Ingram, who took part in the performance, said BP was “the world’s biggest corporate criminal following the Gulf of Mexico disaster” and added: “The British Museum should sever all ties with BP because this sponsorship deal is giving the company a veneer of respectability that it does not deserve.”

The protesters also launched a spoof film based on the exhibition’s promotional trailer and a petition calling to end the British Museum’s BP sponsorship deal.



The museum, which has a BP lecture theatre, has faced ongoing protests over its relationship with BP, which has supported the museum since 1996 and regularly sponsors exhibitions.

Figures released by oil-industry watchdog Platform show that the amount of money given by BP to the British Museum makes up less than 1% of the museum’s annual income.

But the protest group is concerned that the company receives a large amount of high-profile branding and use of the museum for corporate events in return.

The museum released a statement in response to the protest, which said it was “exceptionally grateful” to BP for its support.

It continued: “The British Museum believes it is more important than ever to deepen people’s understanding of the world’s many and varied cultures and this is something that can be achieved through the temporary exhibition format.

“It is only possible to develop and host temporary exhibitions with this kind of external support.”

Three of the UK’s other biggest cultural organisations - The Tate, the Royal Opera House and The National Portrait Gallery - also receive funding from BP.

Comments

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Anonymous
MA Member
07.05.2014, 00:23
I was completely unaware that BP was even a sponsor of the British Museum and the National Gallery's temporary exhibitions despite visiting both institutions fairly regularly. I guess like nearly all visitors, i just blank out the advertising and the acknowledgment boards and focus on the objects.