The British Museum Is the Latest Site of Pro-Palestine Protests

The protest follows other demonstrations that shutdown MoMA in New York and Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof.

A view of the British Museum. Photo: Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

A group of pro-Palestine activists staged a sit-in at the British Museum in London on Sunday, February 11, in protest of its recently renewed $63 million partnership deal with the British oil and gas company BP. One sign read “BP fuels colonial genocide” and the protestors chanted “if you partner with BP, we’ll shut you down!”

The demonstration, which was organized by Energy Embargo for Palestine, occupied the central Great Court at midday, temporarily closing the museum to new visitors.

“We demand that the British Museum end its 10-year partnership with British Petroleum, an energy company profiting from Israel’s colonial genocide,” Energy Embargo for Palestine posted on X.

The British Museum said that the Metropolitan Police were alerted to the protest and arrived on the scene at around 2:15 p.m. The group left when asked to do so and no arrests were made.

“The British Museum respects other people’s right to express their views and allows peaceful protest onsite at the museum as long as there is no risk to the collection, staff or visitors,” a spokesperson for the museum told Artnet News.

On October 30th of last year, Israel granted gas exploration licenses to six companies, including BP.

“We will not watch idly as energy companies based in Britain fuel Israel’s colonial genocide,” the group said.

The announcement in December that the British Museum had struck a new deal with BP came as surprise. It had been rumored that this 27-year partnership would come to an end.

The British Museum has been routinely subject to protests by the activist group BP or Not BP and Greenpeace, while museums around the world are under mounting pressure to sever ties with the fossil fuel industry. In October, and in the wake of last summer’s theft scandal, the British Museum pledged to digitize its entire collection of at least 8 million objects within the next five years, an initiative that is expected to cost $12 million.

Globally, pro-Palestine protests over the weekend surged and temporarily shut down the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and also resulted in the postponement of a performance by artist Tania Brugueras at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof. Another 300 protestors also demonstrated at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, of which 11 were arrested or issued citations by the New York Police Department.

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