BP’s donation to the British Museum

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by one our “actor-vists” has revealed that the donation behind BP’s controversial sponsorship deal with the British Museum is, as expected, embarrassingly small. The Museum disclosed that BP donated an average of £596,000 a year from 2000 to 2011 – just 0.8% of the museum’s income. The revelation comes just weeks after an information tribunal forced the Tate to reveal its BP sponsorship amounts: £240,000 a year on average.

British Museum BP Donation - Table 1

It’s clear from this FOI request that BP’s sponsorship deal with the British Museum has nothing to do with philanthropy. This meagre donation has allowed BP to hide its corporate crimes by buying a veil of social legitimacy that it does not deserve. An unpleasant irony is that many of the cultures celebrated in the British Museum are those that are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, fuelled by BP’s relentless search for oil. The museum’s director, Neil MacGregor, should join the growing wave of universities, faith and government institutions breaking their ties with the fossil fuel industry and get to work removing BP’s logos from the British Museum.

You can view the full breakdown of the museum’s annual income against BP’s average annual donation below:

British Museum BP Donation - Table 2

This shows that while the British Museum’s income has increased…

British Museum Income

…the proportion of its income that comes from BP has fallen.

Proportion of Income from BP

However, the British Museum have refused to disclose how much money they currently receive from BP, as they believe it would ‘prejudice the commercial interests of the Museum’. It was announced in 2011 that BP would give £10 million to the British Museum, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Opera House, for a five year period. If divided equally between those four cultural institutions, that’s just £500,000 a year each. That would mean BP’s donation to the British Museum would have gotten smaller, while the British Museum’s income has continued to grow – in 2013-14 it was £144 million. If we’re right, that means BP’s contribution to the museum today might be less than 0.4%!

On Sunday, 200 people plan to join us for our ‘detective flashmob’ at the British Museum to challenge this unethical partnership. If you think it’s time the museum stopped cleaning up BP’s reputation for a tiny fee, come and join us!

You can sign up at the Facebook event here.

You can read the full Freedom of Information response below:

Freedom of Information Request - BP donations to British Museum 2000-11 (1) Freedom of Information Request - BP donations to British Museum 2000-11 (2)

9 thoughts on “BP’s donation to the British Museum

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