All are welcome to join the CDH Exhibition History Reading Group. The next session will be on Wednesday 28 April 2023 1-3pm at William Street G14 and online via Teams. This month’s theme is ‘The Art of Greenwashing: The optics and ethics of corporate sponsorships of museumsfacilitated by Laharee Mitra.

Many museums around the UK have committed themselves to take action against climate change in myriad ways, including evaluating their carbon footprint or setting up programmes and exhibitions around the subject. Yet, contradictory to how they publicly advocate for climate activism, some museums have been criticised for accepting unethical sponsorships from big oil or fossil fuel companies. The term ‘artwashing’ is used to describe a PR strategy that involves corporations investment in cultural and arts organisations that gives the organisation a veneer of social consciousness. An older similar tactic ‘greenwashing’ aims at giving consumers the impression of an ‘ecologically conscious’ company. These two terms together provide an important framework in which to understand current discussions around big oil and fossil fuel companies sponsoring national museums in the UK. In this session of the reading group we will discuss three case studies (British Museum, Natural History Museum and Science Museum) to explore how these sponsorships have been investigated by various actors and how they affect the museums’ position as a knowledge-provider.


  • Serafini, P. and Garrard C., 2019. Fossil fuel sponsorship and the contested museum: Agency, accountability and arts activism. In Museum Activism (pp.66-79), Routledge.
  • Crisp, W. 2023. ‘Natural History Museum under fire for gagging clause with Danish oil sponsor’ The Guardian.
  • Fossil Free Science Museum, 2023. Science Museum Group: An Unravelling Tragedy. Fossil Free Science Museum.

Please email to RSVP for this session. We will send you a Teams link where you will have access to the readings.