Climate Activists Staged ‘Speak-Out’ Protests at Two New York Museums

13 protestors were arrested after actions at the American Museum of Natural History and Guggenheim Museum.

Extinction Rebellion protestors at at the American Museum of Natural History on November 18. Photo courtesy of Extinction Rebellion.

Activists with the climate change awareness group Extinction Rebellion protested at the American Museum of Natural History and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, staging a “speak-out” and “die-in” at the former on November 18 and unfurling banners at the latter on November 19. The 13 activists were arrested by the New York Police Department.

In an emailed statement, the police said that protests began around 4:30 p.m. and ended around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday. A spokesperson for the department did indicate how many were arrested at each museum.

At the AMNH, protestors laid down on the floor, in front of the reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the museum’s lobby, for over an hour to urge climate justice. The group posted a video of the “die-in” on X (formerly Twitter).

“From the Koch brothers to J.P. Morgan, from Blackrock, from whoever, it’s dirty money. I’m out here on behalf of all the mothers in Pakistan, in Maui, in anywhere, who do not have a voice right now. And all these climate activists are using their free time to sound the alarm the way this institution should be,” a woman in the video said.

Extinction Rebellion said museum security closed one of the two exits of the Koch Dinosaur Wing, preventing them from walking further into the museum. They added that visitors lining up for tickets were informed they didn’t need to purchase any, which allowed them to be “quickly ushered into the museum and kept from hearing our message.”

A spokesperson for the Museum of Natural History told the New York Post that the protest was small and no arrests were made inside the museum.

On Sunday, November 19, the group staged another action at the Guggenheim, hanging banners over the museum’s iconic ramps that variously read “No Art on a Dead Planet” and “No Artists on a Dead Planet.” According to the group, the protest, which included chants and speeches, lasted for three hours. They occupied the museum until it closed at 8 p.m., whereupon protestors who refused to leave were arrested.

In a statement the group addressed to New York’s institutions, Extinction Rebellion urged them to “reset” their priorities and create assemblies to better determine “a path toward carbon net zero and environmental healing.”

“‘No museums on a dead planet!’ is a climate justice rallying cry,” the statement read. “It poses the philosophical question implicit in this threat to our collective survival: With the whole world at risk, what is any of this even for? Why do we have exhibitions at all, and why do we have museums?”

Earlier this month, two Extinction Rebellion activists stormed the stage during the Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper sale at Christie’s New York, shouting: “No art on a dead planet!” Auctioneer Tash Perrin was unable to continue taking bids and left the rostrum until security removed them.

 

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