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.

Free Press Houston: The Revolution Will Not Be Painterly

Full Article by Harbeer Sandhu


But if social practices is the subject, then there’s no better example anywhere than Project Row Houses. The current round of installations, Shattering the Concrete: Artists, Activists and Instigators, at Project Row Houses “explor[es] the role that art can play in challenging our current political paradigm and fomenting political change.”

[museum 006] My favorite is “Mining the HMNS” — a collaboration between New York based climate activists Not An Alternative and local environmental justice organization T.E.J.A.S.  (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, with whom Free Press Houston collaborated on a series of articles last year). “Mining the HMNS,” is a logical offshoot of Not An Alternative’s ongoing project The Natural History Museum, which questions and unpacks the assumptions-presented-as-fact by Houston’s Museum of Natural Science — specifically the way the largely-funded-by-oil-and-gas-corporations HMNS might be “a [public relations]front for the fossil fuel industry.”

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.