More than 80 people from heritage, arts and climate backgrounds have written an open letter to the British Museum calling on it to remove BP’s name from its lecture theatre.
The move would send “a powerful message” about fossil fuel sponsorship, supporters said, calling on the museum’s director Hartwig Fischer to enact the change before he steps down next year.
Fischer announced the decision to resign his eight-year role last month, stating that he wanted to focus on the “rescue and preservation of cultural heritage in times of climate crisis, conflict, war and violence”, the Guardian reported.
The museum chose not to renew its 27-year sponsorship deal with the energy firm this year, stating that there were “no other contracts or agreements in effect between the museum and BP”.
Tate, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Shakespeare Company, Scottish Ballet and Royal Opera House have all ended funding partnerships with the company in recent years, to the approval of environmental campaigners.
Signatories calling on Fischer to change the name of the theatre include photographer Nan Goldin, climate scientist Bill McGuire, writer Gaia Vince, climate justice activist and mental health advocate Tori Tsui, the director of the Brunel Museum Katherine McAlpine and archaeologist and author David Wengrow.
“Just as cultural institutions around the world have removed the Sackler family name as evidence of the harmful ways their money was made came to light, the damning evidence of BP’s past – and present – can no longer be ignored,” they wrote to Fischer in a letter organised by Culture Unstained.
“Renaming the lecture theatre would send a powerful message about the future the museum wants to see… You would be demonstrating the kind of climate leadership that is now so urgently needed.”
The letter acknowledged that its writers welcomed the news that the museum’s existing sponsorship deal with BP had come to an end this year and urged Fischer to “pledge that the museum will accept no further funding from sponsors or donors involved in fossil fuel production”.