DeSmogBlog: Examining the Influence of Fossil Fuel Sponsors on Natural History Museums’ Energy Exhibitions

Full article by Julie Dermansky


The art exhibition, “Mining the HMNS: An Investigation by The Natural History Museum,” in Houston, Texas, raises the question: “Is the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences a museum, or a PR front for the fossil fuel industry?”

The exhibition is a collaboration between The Natural History Museum, a mobile museum created by Not An Alternative, a Brooklyn based collective engaged in art and activism, and t.e.j.a.s. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), a community-based activist organization in East Houston.

It is part of the group show, “Shattering the Concrete: Artists, Activists and Instigators,” at Project Row Houses, an arts organization that explores “art’s role in challenging the current political paradigm and fomenting political change,” on display through June 19.

The Natural History Museum’s exhibition parodies elements featured in the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences (HMNS), the Wiess Energy Hall. In the show is a recreation of a wall crediting donors inside the HMNS.. While a wall in theHMNS displays the donors’ names scaled according to the size of donations (the larger donors are spelled out with larger letters), the Natural History Museum’s wall lists the names of HMNS’s donors with letters sized to the donors’ greenhouse gas emissions.