BP’s sponsorship of the British Museum’s major exhibitions has reportedly ended, after a 27 year partnership.
The final BP-sponsored exhibition “Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt” closed on 19th February 2023. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by campaigning organisation Culture Unstained, and first reported in in the Guardian, suggest this marked the official end of the Museum’s contract with BP.
The Museum says it has made a “verbal agreement” with BP that the company has until the end of 2023 to use up ‘supporter benefits’ that were not taken during covid restrictions, reports Culture Unstained.
It said the museum has confirmed that there are no other contracts or agreements in effect between the Museum and BP, and that it has no records relating to renewing the agreement, or agreeing a new or different kind of agreement, with BP.
Campaigners are now calling on the museum to confirm that it will not sign any future partnerships with fossil fuel producers and remove BP’s name from its lecture theatre.
Activist groups have increased pressure on the museum to end its partnership in recent years, among them activist theatre group BP or not BP?, which has held performance protests within the museum’s walls.
Sarah Waldron, Co-director of Culture Unstained, called the news a “massive victory for all the artists, activists and workers that campaigned for BP’s logo to be taken down from the museum’s blockbuster exhibitions, with it now joining the RSC, Royal Opera House and National Portrait Gallery in not renewing sponsorship deals with BP that began back in 2016.”
The museum’s chair George Osborne said last year that the museum’s goal is to be a “net zero carbon museum” which is “no longer a destination for climate protest but instead an example of climate solution”.
A British Museum spokesperson said: “In times of reduced public funding, corporate sponsors like BP allow us to fulfil our mission to deliver unique learning experiences to our visitors.
“We have not ended our partnership with BP. BP is a valued long term supporter of the Museum and our current partnership runs until this year.”