Our campaign so far…
In July 2021 Channel 4 News covered our latest investigation: that the Science Museum Group has signed a “gagging clause” with its sponsor Shell, committing not to “damage the goodwill or reputation” of the oil giant. We also caught the museum red-handed trying to persuade 12 more of the world’s biggest oil firms to sponsor the exhibition, as well as many other disturbing insights into what’s going on behind the scenes at the Science Museum. Read the full investigation here.
The Science Museum announced in April 2021 that its ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition would be sponsored by Shell. We helped mobilise a huge outcry, including: leading scientists calling it ‘staggering and irresponsible‘; youth climate strikers publishing an open letter calling on the museum to drop Shell, endorsed by over 200 scientists and organisations – then launching a boycott of the exhibition; some contributors to the exhibition going public about how unhappy they were; revealing the museum director’s internal memo to staff defending Shell and attacking critics.
Comedian and broadcaster Robin Ince became the third speaker to pull out of the Science Museum’s ‘Climate Talks’ over its partnerships with oil giants BP and Equinor, explaining his reasoning in a highly personal blog.
In February 2021 we revealed how the Science Museum Group has been helping BP behind the scenes to defend its sponsorship deals, and environmentalist George Monbiot pulled out of the museum’s Climate Talks series over its ongoing partnerships with BP and Equinor.
We revealed in The Guardian in 2018 how partners of the Manchester Science Festival pulled out when they discovered that oil giant Shell would sponsor the headline exhibition taking place at the city’s Science and Industry Museum.
In 2018 we supported 46 scientists who backed a formal complaint to the Science Museum Group, making the case that its partnerships with BP, Shell and Equinor breach the organisation’s own values and Ethics Policy.
Through Freedom of Information requests and background research, we’ve exposed how oil sponsors have used partnerships with the Science Museum to further their business plans. Find out more here.
Prior to founding Culture Unstained, we revealed on the front page of The Guardian how Shell had attempted to influence the Science Museum’s climate exhibition, ‘Atmosphere’.
The Science Museum Group’s partnerships with three major oil and gas firms
Despite the mounting climate crisis, the Science Museum Group has worked in close partnership with three oil and gas giants – BP, Shell and Equinor – since the early 2000s.
- Equinor – the Norwegian oil and gas giant currently drilling in the Arctic – is the title sponsor of ‘Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery’, an interactive science space for children which opened in 2016.
- Shell was sponsor of the Science Museum’s ‘Atmosphere’ exhibition on climate science but internal emails revealed in 2015 how the oil giant attempted to influence the exhibition’s curation. The partnership did not end, however, and in 2018, Shell sponsored the exhibition ‘Electricity: the spark of life’ at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. In April 2021 it was announced as the sponsor of the Science Museum’s ‘Our Future Planet’ exhibition on Carbon Capture and Storage.
- BP worked hand in hand with the Science Museum on the creation of its Energy Gallery in 2003. Today, BP sponsors the SMG’s STEM ‘Training Academy’ to train teachers on how to deliver science education, and until recently hosted the annual awards ceremony of its ‘Ultimate STEM Challenge’ in the museum.