After Gündoğdu heard about the museum’s contract with Shell, he began to reconsider his decision. On November 5, he sent an email to the curator telling them that – due to the museum’s affiliation with Shell – he would no longer provide samples for the collection. “I am trying to raise awareness about climate change and the impact of climate change, and how to help people fight this problem,” says Gündoğdu. Sending his samples to the Science Museum would contradict that message, he says.
But museum officials say the Shell sponsorship has no bearing on how it collects or displays artifacts. “We completely reject the false claim that our curators are in any way hampered in performing their vital role in an expert, independent and thorough manner,” said a spokesman for the Science Museum Group. The spokesman adds that the museum retains full editorial control over the contents of its exhibits and galleries and will not agree to a relationship that limits the pursuit of its mission of collecting material or producing exhibits.
“Curators often discuss current research with scientists to help identify appropriate items to acquire. This is just the beginning of a lengthy process that includes in-depth internal discussions and research before a formal acquisition is made,” says Tilly Blyth, Head of Collection and curator at the Museum of Science. “We respect the right of every person to decide whether they will cooperate with us by donating items to the National Collection.”
Shell also denied that its sponsorship of the climate exhibition undermines the Science Museum’s independence. “We fully respect the museum’s independence. That’s why its exhibition on carbon capture matters, and that’s why we supported it. Debate and discussion – among all who see it – are crucial, “said a Shell spokesman. By 2020, Shell’s own reported greenhouse gas emissions added up to 1.38 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents – more than four times the UK’s annual emissions. According to the environmental charity Client Earth, Shell’s planned emissions between 2018 and 2030 alone will account for almost 1.6 percent of the total global carbon budget, the amount of carbon that can be released into the atmosphere while still keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Science Museum has been involved in a number of controversies surrounding the sponsorship from Shell for its Our Future Planet exhibition, which runs until September 2022. The exhibition focuses on technologies – including carbon capture and tree planting – that can be used to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. aroused much criticism for allegedly laundering Shell’s significant contribution to the climate crisis. Extraction and burning of fossil fuels is the major contributor to global warming.
In September, the Science Museum said it would remove a poster a student had made for a March 2019 climate protest from the exhibit. The poster was collected after a march in London, where an estimated 10,000 young people gathered to protest the government’s inaction on climate change. change. The decision to remove the poster was made in response to an open letter from the UK Student Climate Network requesting that the poster be removed as the young people who donated it had not been made aware of Shell’s sponsorship.