Manchester Science Festival’s Shell controversy

Three partners, including Carbon Co-op and Stitched Up, have withdrawn from the Manchester Science Festival following news that Shell will be the major sponsor of The Manchester-based Science and Industry Museum (SIM)’s new exhibition – ‘Electricity: the spark of life’. This exhibition is due to launch alongside the Science Festival on the 18th October. 

A more than 57,000 strong petition was delivered to Manchester’s SIM, calling on it to drop its links with Shell and follow the growing trend for cultural institutions to drop ties with fossil fuel sponsors. Over the past month three Dutch museums - including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam – have announced an end to their sponsorship deals with Shell, following creative protests by the group Fossil Free Culture NL.

Among the petition’s signatories was naturalist Chris Packham who commented: “As the world swelters and wildlife struggles in [the] unprecedented heatwave [this past summer], MSI has decided to partner with Shell, one of the corporations responsible for fuelling climate change. A museum dedicated to science education should not be helping promote any company that is actively exacerbating this planetary emergency until they show a serious proactive drive to switch to renewables. And thus far this is not happening.”

Image: Manchester Science Festival

The Science Museum Group – of which the Science and Industry Museum is a member – is also under pressure to justify its partnerships with Shell, BP and Equinor after nearly 50 leading scientists submitted a formal complaint in July 2018 arguing that the museum group is ‘undermining its integrity as a scientific institution’ by partnering with major fossil fuel companies, despite their continued contribution to climate change.

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