Greenpeace activists have climbed the British Museum and are hanging banners off its columns in protest at BP’s sponsorship of its new ancient Egypt exhibition.
The museum has temporarily closed because of the protest. “The museum is closed temporarily for visitor safety reasons. We hope we will be able to reopen shortly,” a spokeswoman said.
Greenpeace said it was targeting the oil company’s sponsorship of the Sunken Cities exhibition, and called on the museum to end the partnership. The protest today follows one on Wednesday at the museum’s Great Court by the group BP or not BP, which campaigns against fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts.
Elena Polisano, a campaigner for Greenpeace, said: “The British Museum is an institution traditionally devoted to education, research and discovery, whereas BP’s focus is on building an oil-dependent culture. The only research and discovery they are interested in is finding more of the fossil fuels that are warming our planet and raising sea levels.”
The green group said 85 activists took part in the protest, which involves 27-foot-long banners with the names of cities threatened by sea level rise and climate change, and dubbed the exhibition ‘Sinking Cities’.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said officers were at the scene and making enquiries. “Police were called at 09:26hrs on Thursday, 19 May to reports of protesters at the British Museum,” they said.
The Sunken Cities exhibition, which is sponsored by BP, hosts treasures from Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, two cities lost to the sea by the 8th century. It is the museum’s first to explore underwater archaeology.
A BP spokesman said: “BP has a long history as a major supporter of arts and culture in the UK and we are proud to have partnered the British Museum for 20 years, supporting significant exhibitions such as the new Sunken Cities exhibition.”