A new Natural History Museum is opening in Queens as a response to concerns of corruption at NYC’s American Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.’s Museum of Natural History and other institutions that accept funding from Koch Industries and other corporate polluters. In the case of the popular NYC and D.C. museums, oil baron David Koch sits on their boards while bankrolling climate change denial campaigns.
The pop-up museum is the project of Brooklyn-based arts collective Not an Alternative and is set up to mimic traditional natural history museums “with the aim to politicize the aesthetics of the re-presentation of nature,” according to their press release. The first exhibit “will interrogate the social and political forces affecting the atmospheric climate on Earth and the political/funding climate within museums of natural history.” The September 13th launch is timed to coincide with the People’s Climate March taking place in NYC on September 21st . Organizers are describing the event as the largest climate rally in history.
There is concern that the fossil fuel industry is compromising the scientific integrity of museum exhibits across the country. For example, a recent energy exhibit at the Perot Museum of Science in Dallas, Texas was criticized for failing to make the link between the burning of fossil fuels and global warming. The Perot Museum receives funding from the CEOs of ExxonMobil and Chief Oil & Gas. In another example, a Koch-funded exhibition at the Smithsonian came under fire for whitewashing the climate issue.
“In the long term, this project aims to model the museum of the future,” said Not An Alternative member Beka Economopoulos. “It’s not a joke or a punchline. It will speak earnestly to the ideals and values of natural history museums. Wouldn’t it be great if the institutions that provide us with our basic perspective on nature weren’t hamstrung by the threat of self-censorship that comes from accepting corporate cash? And what if they actively championed a version of nature capable of sustaining life for generations to come?”
Images via The Natural History Museum