British Museum forced to shut doors as pro-Palestine and environmental protests form blockade to historic landmark

24 March 2024, 20:57

British Museum forced to shut doors as pro-Palestine and environmental protests form blockade to historic landmark
British Museum forced to shut doors as pro-Palestine and environmental protests form blockade to historic landmark. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

The British Museum was forced to close its doors Sunday after hundreds of pro-Palestine and environmental protesters formed a blockade at the historic landmark's entrance.

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Demonstrators calling themselves Energy Embargo for Palestine - protesting both against climate change and in support of Palestine - called on the general public to boycott the museum over its partnership with BP.

The British Museum initially said the site was evacuated but later stressed that those who arrived in the building before 3pm were able to continue their visit.

Hundreds of protesters were seen standing across the main entrance holding banners and Palestinian flags. One sign stretching across the gate said: "Sponsored by BP = sponsored by colonial genocide."

Pro-Palestine protesters gather outside the British Museum, calling on the museum to drop the BP sponsorship
Pro-Palestine protesters gather outside the British Museum, calling on the museum to drop the BP sponsorship. Picture: Alamy

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A British Museum spokeswoman said: "The British Museum respects other people's right to express their views and allows peaceful protest onsite at the museum as long as there is no risk to the collection, staff or visitors."

The museum closes at 5pm every day except Fridays, and those who bought tickets will be given a refund or have their visit moved to another day, it is understood.

In a statement, Energy Embargo for Palestine said: "Over two hundred activists staged a mass disruption on the pavement outside of the main entrance of the museum."

The group, which previously organised a protest at the Great Court alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, objects to the museum's partnership with BP.

The campaigners accuse BP of attempting to "greenwash" its actions by sponsoring the museum.

They also objected to the British Museum confirming in December that BP will sponsor the museum for another decade following a £50 million deal to help fund its renovations plans.

Energy Embargo for Palestine said the museum "is the main platform for the social licence of BP, legitimises its philanthropic efforts, and enshrines its image of corporate responsibility and contribution to British society and culture".

It has cited six companies including BP being given gas exploration licences for off the coast of Israel, according to an October announcement.

The Metropolitan Police confirmed the force attended and there were no arrests. It is understood the force advised for the building to be closed to the public.

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