Why Are Climate Change Protests Targeting Museums?
A surprising side effect of climate change disasters – museums now have to plan for threats to their collections.
The start of an unusual trend, activists are hoping to gain attention by targeting works of art in the name of climate change. First, members of a group called Just Stop Oil splashed tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers at London’s National Gallery. Nine days later, a pair of German environmentalists threw mashed potatoes at a Monet painting in a Potsdam museum.
“We are in a climate catastrophe and all you are afraid of is tomato soup or mashed potatoes on a painting. You know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid because science tells us that we won’t be able to feed our families in 2050,” the protester said.
Disruptions at museums are becoming a common event. In July, climate activists glued their palms to protective glass in two Italian museums, and most recently a man attempted to glue his head to Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Both protests were thwarted by the protective glass covering each painting, but they did gain international attention. With such valuable and singular works on display, museums have a history of maintaining tight security. However, the recent surge in protests has resulted in a reappraisal of their protective efforts.
“The attack on a work of the Hasso Plattner Collection as well as previous attacks on artworks, among others in the National Gallery in London, have shown that the high international security standards for the protection of artworks in case of activist attacks are not sufficient and need to be adapted,” Director Ortrud Westheider said in a statement.
While your organization may not have to protect a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, your assets are always under a potential threat. It might be time to take your cues from these museums and see if your security has any vulnerabilities.