Campaigners label 10-year British Museum partnership with BP ‘indefensible’

The £50m agreement, which will support the museum’s master plan, was called “out of touch”, after the partnership had seemingly ended last year

The British Museum has been called “out-of-touch” after announcing a new multi-year partnership with long-term supporter BP.

Last year it was reported that the historic partnership between the two organisations had ended, seemingly in step with other cultural organisations such as Tate, National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House.

The museum said the newly announced partnership will see the energy company provide £50m over 10 years, specifically to partially fund the delivery of the Museum’s Masterplan.

The company’s association with the museum has long been a source of contention, having been the cause of multiple protests within its doors.

In a November meeting trustees were warned about the increased risks of damage to its collection from protesters in reaction to the announcement of the deal.

Chris Garrard, co-director of campaign group Culture Unstained called the decision “astonishingly out of touch and completely indefensible”, and said the group will seek to mount a formal challenge against what it sees as a “breach of the museum’s own climate commitments and sector-wide codes”.

The Times reports that trustee Dame Mary Beard had opposed the sponsorship deal when the board was asked to make a decision, but “accepted as a Board member the view of the majority of the Trustees”.

Separately, Muriel Gray resigned at a November meeting prior to trustees discussing the announcement of the partnership deal.

Revealed alongside the Masterplan funding were new designs for the museum’s government-backed Energy Centre, which it said will see the phasing out of the use of fossil fuels within its estate.

Completion of the first phase of the Masterplan will be marked by the official opening of the new British Museum Archaeological Research facility on 7 June 2024, BM_ARC.

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