Demonstrators stage biggest-ever protest against oil sponsorships at British Museum Organised by climate justice group BP or not BP?, the event saw the Great Court of the British Museum taken over by protesters demonstrating against BP’s sponsorship of the temporary exhibition ‘I Am Ashurbanipal: King of the World, King of Assyria’.

The British Museum is one of five cultural organisations receiving sponsorship from BP as part of a £7.5m deal that came into effect in 2018 and will run for five years.

The protest saw over 300 people take part and featured performance, speeches, singing and spoken word. It fell one day after the anniversary of massive global protests against the Iraq War in 2003, with the group highlighting the relationship between BP and the conflict.

One of the revelations of the Chilcot Report was that BP and other fossil fuel companies were lobbying for post-war access to Iraqi oil as early as 2002. At the climax of the protest, participants surrounded the museum’s central rotunda while holding up banners with text saying ‘the links between BP, oil sponsorship, colonialism, climate change, stolen culture…and the Iraq War’.

Sarah Horne, a member of BP or not BP? said: “This dirty sponsorship deal needs to end now.”

A statement from the British Museum said: “The long-term support provided by BP allows the museum to plan its programming in advance and to bring world cultures to a global audience through hugely popular exhibitions and their associated public programmes.”

Nan Goldin says she will boycott National Portrait Gallery retrospective if it accepts gift from Sackler family The photographer and anti-opioid activist says she is planning to turn down the institution’s major retrospective of her work if it accepts a gift of more than $1 million from the family, which owns Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the powerful painkiller OxyContin. The drug is seen as being at the centre of the US opioid crisis.

Goldin told the Observer: “I will not do the show. I have been invited to have a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery and I have told them I would not do it if they take the Sackler money.”

When asked about the situation, the gallery told Artforum: “We are in regular contact with a range of artists about potential future displays and exhibitions, including Nan Goldin, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to comment on projects which are still being discussed. The grant pledged by the Sackler Trust is going through our internal review process in line with our ethical fundraising policy and charitable objectives.”

Goldin recently made headlines by staging a major protest with her P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) group at the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York over their links to the large family of arts philanthropists.

As the Observer reports, the Sackler family is a key donor at many high-profile British institutions, including: the National Gallery, Tate, National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal Ballet School, Royal Opera House, Old Vic, the Royal College of Art, the Serpentine, Royal Court, Museum of London, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Design Museum, the Courtauld and the Roundhouse.

Tetra Pak heirs donate £10m to Royal Academy art school The Royal Academy of Arts’ postgraduate art school has received the largest such gift in its 250-year history, with Tetra Pak heir Hans Rausing and his wife Julia gifting it £10m. The donation contributes towards a renewal project starting in 2021 that will create a campus with increased space for studios, including a new suite of workshops in Burlington Gardens.

The historic Sydney Smirke studios, Cast Corridor and Life Room, built in 1870, will also be restored, whilst new technical workshops will be created to support technologies and a new RA Schools Library.

Originally founded in 1769, the RA Schools is Britain’s oldest art school. Each year it offers 17 artists the opportunity to undertake a three-year postgraduate programme, which is free thanks to supporters. Alumni include JMW Turner, John Constable, Sir John Soane and William Blake, to 20th-century artists John Hoyland, Richard Hamilton and Sir Anthony Caro.

In a statement, the school said that the couple’s donation will “ensure its success for the next 250 years”.

Metropolitan Museum of Art gives coffin back to Egypt after discovering it had been looted The first-century BC gilded coffin had been acquired by the Met less than two years ago. However, an investigation by the district attorney’s office into the coffin’s origins revealed that it had been stolen in 2011 from Egypt.

The coffin was purchased by the museum from the Paris-based dealer Christophe Kunicki for €3.5m. A spokesman for the dealer told the Art Newspaper: “I can tell you that the provenance file we provided to the Metropolitan Museum, to my best knowledge, was absolutely correct. We want to know what is happening because we don’t understand what is happening. It’s absolutely unbelievable – it’s a terrible surprise for us.”

Although he confirmed that the coffin was purchased from a private collection, the spokesman declined to identify it.

Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive, said the institution had been the victim of deceit. He commented: “After we learned that the museum was a victim of fraud and unwittingly participated in the illegal trade of antiquities, we worked with the DA’s office for its return to Egypt.”

1-2. BP or Not BP? protest at the British Museum. Photo: Safa Kadhim

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