Science Museum Ukraine

Arts Council England advises cancellation of Russia-linked exhibitions and loans

Image: The Science Museum lights up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag (The Science Museum)

Museums are among the cultural institutions being advised to reconsider work which includes Russian or Belarusian state-sponsored or state-funded collections and exhibitions.

Arts Council England (ACE) has provided new guidance for museums planning to work with companies and artists from Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, it made suggestions for English cultural organisations and individual practitioners, specifically those planning, preparing or presenting work in England which involves companies or individuals from Russia or Belarus, and for cultural organisations and individual practitioners who are planning projects in Russia or Belarus.

It suggests English museums should consider the immediate cancellation of any forthcoming loans of artworks or artefacts from state-sponsored or state-funded collections in Russia or Belarus, and, where necessary, cancel or revise exhibitions to exclude such input.

It also suggests that museums consider immediately withdrawing permission for any objects from their own collections to be exhibited in state-sponsored and/or state-funded exhibitions in Russia or Belarus.

ACE stressed in its statement that its advice has no formal status, and legal advice should be taken prior to the cancellation of exhibitions, loans or individual contracts.

It also advises that organisations continue to engage with artists of Russian/Belarusian heritage or dual citizenship where those artists do not have a known or declared link to the Putin regime.

It said organisations do not require Russian or Belarussian artists to issue a statement condemning the war in Ukraine as a condition of contract, as “the issuing of such statements may endanger the lives, livelihoods and liberty of those artists and their families.”

At the start of the month ACE joined many other cultural organisations in calling for the protection of the cultural heritage of Ukraine and the work of the nation’s artists.

It said: “We stand with those in the creative and cultural world who are showing solidarity for their colleagues in Ukraine.”

Prior to the latest advice being issued, the National Railway Museum was among institutions to cancel a Russia-linked exhibition, citing the Ukraine invasion. ‘‘Trans-Siberian: The World’s Longest Railway’’ was to feature loans from museums, galleries, archives and libraries in Russia was originally scheduled for March.

The exhibition was produced in partnership with JSC Russian Railways, and was to include a smaller display at the Science Museum in London.

The full statement is available on the ACE website.