92 museum directors speak out against climate protests

Museum Directors VS Climate Protesters: Right or Wrong?

Amelie Baker
10th December 2022
Image Credit: @informed.app on Instagram
The recent bout of climate protests, targeting paintings with various food items, have been hotly debated by many and have come under fire once again. The museum directors have decided to show their disapproval, heating up the controversy once more; though not to the extent that climate change is heating up our planet.

A statement signed by 100 museum directors, including those of the Louvre, Guggenheim, and the British Museum, declared how they were “deeply shaken by (the art’s) risky endangerment”. They appeared very concerned that the activists “severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects”, whilst failing to acknowledge the environment’s fragility. However, admittedly, it would be very surprising if a museum director supported the (attempted) destruction of famous art, but, their statement does beg the question: are these “irreplaceable objects” the wrong things upon which to enact protest? 

The victims of the protest have been attracting more attention than the object of the protest itself: climate change. Indeed, the museum directors’ response ignores the environment in favour of “our cultural heritage”. If the upset over these paintings overshadows the issue of the protest then is this the right way to protest?

However, there has never been a ‘right’ way to protest -  any protest is better than none. Indeed, the more ‘conventional’ ways of protest have been utterly exhausted by the Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, and the like. Walking with posters and chanting has not worked. Even the many attempts to halt traffic or the underground have failed to enact the change so sorely needed. 

The Autumn Report only confirms this need for a more radical, more unique protest. Climate change was mentioned just once whilst nature restoration and agricultural reform was notably absent. The Government is taking the same response to the protests as the museum directors: ignore the root of the issues that are causing these protests, and hope that it all goes away. However, climate change is not going to disappear, and neither are the protests. 

As Margaret Klein Salamon, Executive Director of the Climate Emergency Fund, stated in her response to the museum directors, “more protests are coming [...] so buckle up.” And, in light of the fragility of our environment, I have to say that the fragility of these art pieces is unlikely to take precedence - something the museum directors will have to put up with until our government takes serious action to prevent the destruction of our home.

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