Protestors at the Science Museum (2024). Image by Andrea Domeniconi.

More than 30 protestors occupied London’s Science Museum between April 12 and 14, protesting the sponsorship of the museum’s new climate gallery by the coal-producing conglomerate Adani.

The demonstration was led by young people from Youth Action for Climate Justice and the Extinction Rebellion subgroup Scientists for Extinction Rebellion. Also at the protest was nature photographer Chris Packham, who called the deal “beyond greenwash—it’s grotesque.” A naturalist, Packham is known for his work on nature programs such as BBC’s Earth, and recent involvement in climate protests. In 2023, he released the documentary Is It Time To Break The Law about peaceful protest.

Protestors at the Science Museum, 2024. Photo: Andrea Domeniconi.

Addressing the protestors, Packham said: “The Science Museum is a place to spark imagination, to provide answers but also to encourage us to ask questions. The question I’m asking today is a big one: ‘Why on earth are we allowing a destructive industry to sponsor an educational exhibition whilst simultaneously setting fire to young peoples futures?'”

Chris Packham at the Science Museum, 2024. Photo: Andrea Domeniconi.

The April 12 protest comes after several other demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion during the first part of the year over the Adani sponsorship deal. The Science Museum’s new climate gallery was announced in October 2021, promising to “explore the latest climate science and the energy revolution needed to cut global dependence on fossil fuels and achieve the Paris targets to limit global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.” Energy Revolution: The Adani Green Energy Gallery opened on March 26. More than 150 protestors took to the museum to demonstrate at the opening, and guests invited to a private VIP dinner thrown by Adani’s founder Guatam Adani were met by demonstrators on their way in to the venue.

The Science Museum has also faced criticism due to its ties to companies involved in the manufacture of equipment for the Israeli military.

The alternate exhibition by the protestors at the Science Museum, 2024. Photo: Andrea Domeniconi.

Over the weekend, protesters took part in a two-day protest, sleeping overnight inside the museum. The group had planned to hold a public assembly to show an alternative exhibition it had created—made up of a pile of papier-mache lumps of coal—but the museum closed the exhibition to the public on Saturday, preventing the protesters from being seen by the public.

Charlie Gardner, conservation scientist and one of the occupiers at the weekend told Artnet News: “There’s something really incongruous about a scientific institution legitimizing businesses that science has told us have to end their activities. It really undermines the scientific message. It sends a confusing message to the public. The sponsorship can have an impact on what story the museum feels able to tell in its exhibitions. Channel 4 revealed last year that the Science Museum signed a gagging clause with Adani; they’re not able to say anything that would be detrimental to Adani.”

“Many scientists feel betrayed by the fact that the Science Museum is playing this game. Many cultural institutions have severed their ties to fossil fuels,” said Gardner, referencing Amsterdam’s Nemo Museum. “It’s really weird that the Science Museum is the last bastion.”

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