TriplePundit: Activists Highlight Oil Company Influence of Houston Science Museum

Full Article by Leon Kay


As the chorus for divestment from the energy industry becomes louder, activists aim to cut the cords between energy companies and society. One tactic has been to protest the ties between art, museums and energy companies. The Tate Gallery in London, for example, was forced to disclose the amount of sponsorship received from the energy giant BP last year. Energy companies maintain their sponsorship of the art and science institutions are nothing more than a way in which to show corporate citizenship, as in the tradition of iconic American industrialists such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Mellon. Opponents of this trend make the point that large companies often overstep their bounds and give money with onerous strings attached.

Now the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS), one of the most visited museums in the U.S., finds itself coming under scrutiny. A coalition of non-profits is suggesting that the HMNS is front for oil and gas companies. The instigator is The Natural History Museum, a mobile exhibition that seeks to “highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature.” Insisting that corporate money has perverted the pursuit of science, the organization that runs The Natural History Museum accuses corporations of funding museums and exhibitions with the ulterior motive to enhance their agenda.