British-Dutch oil and gas giant Shell is rapidly losing social acceptance in the cultural sector in the Netherlands. At the end of last month, the globally renowned Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam decided to end its 18-year sponsorship deal with Shell.
Two prestigious Dutch museums followed suit: Neither the Mauritshuis, a museum of Dutch art that features exhibitions in its Royal Dutch Shell Wing, nor science and culture museum Museon will accept Shell’s sponsorship money any longer.
Both the Mauritshuis and the Museon are situated in The Hague, home to Shell’s international headquarters.
Fossil Free Culture NL has been campaigning for the Van Gogh Museum to drop Shell as a sponsor. They have been staging a series of disobedient performances to erode the public image of the fossil fuel industry whose business model has pushed our climate to the breaking point.
Fossil Free Culture NL celebrated this milestone saying:
“The deal dropping domino effect is no coincidence. We believe an ethical tipping point in sponsorship norms has been reached in the Dutch cultural sector. […] At long last, it’s time for the fossil fuel industry to take their well-deserved place alongside tobacco as morally unacceptable sponsors.”
We’ll be making more space to hear more from Fossil Free Culture NL (FFC-NL) about the story that has led to this amazing victory, which included their recent ‘Art Storm’. Within a period of five weeks, FFC-NL organised and executed a series of disobedient escalative interventions at the museum. These unannounced disruptions kept throwing a negative spotlight on the museum, building more and more pressure on them to finally stand on the right side of history.
The Art Storm involved…
… Shell’s oil-stained finger prints appearing on the museum…
… 410 scallop shells hidden in the weirdest places in the museum (with the number 410 standing for the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere that day) …
… and one of the most spectacular banner-drops in the history of the Fossil Free campaign … or dare we say, in the history of the grassroots climate movement?
Last year, eight artivists got arrested following the protest performance ‘Drop the Shell’:
Fossil Free Culture NL visited the Van Gogh Museum on Friday May 12 with a powerful performance, continuing to question the toxic relationship between the museum and Shell. We call on the museum to break free from the partnership with the oil giant. #dropTheShell #vanGogh8 #getTheShellOut #divest2017 #divest #GDM 350.org
Posted by Fossil Free Culture NL on Friday, May 12, 2017
Fossil Free Culture NL is far from finished. It already has started to point to other cultural institutions like Het Concertgebouw and NEMO science museum in Amsterdam that need to cut its ties to companies wrecking our climate and trampling on human rights.
First, it’s time to celebrate though. On Sunday, 16th September, Fossil Free Culture NL has invited museum staff and everyone who’d like to join for a party at the museum to celebrate the end of Shell’s sponsorship (details of the event here).
Shell’s partnership with the city of The Hague is also starting to crumble. In previous years, the city supported Shell’s ‘Generation Discover’ festival, a greenwashing event targeting children, with a €100 000 subsidy a year, while the mayor has opened the event declaring that ‘Shell and The Hague belong together’.
Now the pressure the local Fossil Free campaign has been building over the past two years is starting to pay off. This year, The Hague has cut its ties to Shell’s festival: no more subsidies, no mayor, no logo of the municipality next to Shell’s. Times are changing!
And not only in Holland. In the UK, several partners of the Manchester Science Festival raised concerns over Shell’s sponsorship involvement and three pulled out to not be associated with the oil and gas major (here’s the story in The Guardian). Seventy scientists, politicians, campaigners and local groups signed on to an open letter to the director of Manchester Science Museum to reject fossil fuel money.
In Paris, artivist group Libérons le Louvre just staged its latest protest performance over the week to kick French oil and gas company Total out of the Louvre museum. This is what it looked like:
Le 8 septembre pour la journée #RiseForClimate une centaine de personnes ont répondu à l’appel de Libérons Le Louvre pour la plus grande performance du collectif à ce jour.Nous exigeons que le musée du Louvre rompe son partenariat avec l'entreprise Total, symbole des énergies fossiles climaticides ! Signez notre pétition internationale : http://gofossilfree.org/fr/louvre/
Posted by Libérons le Louvre on Sunday, September 9, 2018