Complaint to the Science Museum Group on Oil Sponsorship

On July 5th 2018, 46 highly-respected scientists, science policy experts, naturalists and community representatives have joined forces to support a formal complaint to the Science Museum Group, calling on it to end its partnerships with oil giants BP, Shell and Statoil/Equinor. The complaint sets out detailed evidence that the museum breached its Ethics Policy and is undermining its relationships with important stakeholders.

CU Main 45

On this page, you can view:

  • The full text of that 40-page formal complaint document here.

Complaint excerpt

  • Copies of the Science Museum Group’s ‘due diligence’ reports on BP, Shell and Statoil released following a Freedom of Information request, revealing that the museum was aware of the companies’ ties to pollution, corruption and climate science disinformation

Shell due diligence

  • Copies of several contracts between the Science Museum Group and its oil sponsors, including a clause which stops the museum from making any comment that might be ‘discrediting or damaging the goodwill or reputation’ of Statoil

Statoil contract clause


The background to the complaint, researched and compiled by Culture Unstained, sets out detailed evidence of how the museum breached its Ethics Policy and is undermining its relationships with important stakeholders, especially scientists and young people.

Complaint summary and signatories (single page spread)

You can read the full complaint by clicking here.

You can read our launch blog here and a Guardian article, ‘Science Museum under pressure to shun big oil sponsorship’ here.

You can view the SMG’s current Ethics Policy here.

You can see the museum’s current sustainability policy, as posted on its website, here.


The Science Museum’s official ‘due diligence’ reports into the backgrounds of all three companies reveal that:

  • The museum knew about the companies’ track records of corruption, pollution and links to climate science denial – but did not judge them to be in conflict with its responsibilities as a trusted science institution.
  • No due diligence reports appear to have been created before 2016, despite relationships with Shell and BP going back decades.
  • The report on Shell appears to have only been rapidly created – or immediately updated – the day after our FOI request was submitted.

You can view the reports by clicking on the links below.

SMG’s Due Diligence report on Shell, dated 11th May 2018

SMG’s Due Diligence report on BP, dated 30th March 2017

SMG’s Due Diligence report on Statoil, dated 31st May 2016


Culture Unstained has also been researching the benefits that these companies get from a sponsorship deal with the Science Museum Group. We have obtained copies – with significant redactions – of several of its contracts with its oil sponsors.

SMG’s contract with Statoil as title sponsor for Wonderlab: the Statoil Gallery

SMG’s Shell Corporate Membership Contract 2016

SMG’s Atmosphere Gallery Shell Sponsorship Contract 2009

Shell’s Amendment to Building Bridges contract, inherited from BG

SMG’s corporate membership contract with BP (2013)

This project was supported by  Minor Foundation Logo