British Museum Ends 27-Year Sponsorship Deal With BP

Saturday, June 3, 2023
British Museum Ends 27-Year Sponsorship Deal With BP

14 leading UK institutions including Tate, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House – and now the British Museum – have ended their ties to fossil fuel funding since 2016.

This seismic shift at the British Museum follows a decade-long campaign of creative resistance spearheaded by the activist theatre group BP or not BP? whose ambitious performance protests regularly drew crowds of hundreds, including an overnight occupation of the Great Court, artistic collaborations with communities impacted by BP, and even bringing a 4-metre high Trojan Horse into the Museum’s courtyard – without permission.

The campaign against BP sponsorship of the British Museum was also backed by archaeologists, young people and leading cultural figures, including bestselling novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who in 2019 resigned from the Museum's Board of Trustees over the issue. The PCS Union, which represents front of house workers at the museum, has also given its backing and first passed a motion to formally support the campaign against fossil fuel sponsorship of the arts back in 2015.

BP had partnered with the British Museum since 1996 but Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made by Culture Unstained, and reported on in the Guardian, have confirmed that: 

  • The final BP-sponsored exhibition “Hieroglyphs: Unlocking Ancient Egypt” closed on 19th February 2023 and this marked the official end of the Museum’s contract with BP. 
  • The Museum says it has made a “verbal agreement” with BP that the company has until the end of 2023 to use up ‘supporter benefits’ that were not taken during COVID-19 restrictions.
  • The museum has confirmed that there are no other contracts or agreements in effect between the Museum and BP, and that it has no records relating to renewing the agreement, or agreeing a new or different kind of agreement, with BP.


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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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