After a long history of cultural sponsorship that started in 1931, Shell and NEMO Science Museum have quietly ended their partnership during lockdown. A cultural sector fully liberated from the fossil fuel industry is now within reach in Amsterdam.
We celebrate the end of Shell’s current partnership with NEMO and call for a commitment to rule out future fossil fuel partnerships. Let’s remember what we can’t accept.
Shell, recently condemned by the Dutch court for causing climate disaster, refuses to comply with court orders to reduce its emissions and bring them in line with global climate goals. Shell is a company that denies its complicity in human rights abuses around the globe, a company that poses an existential threat to life and cultures on this planet, a company that must be refused by any public cultural and science institution.
On Saturday, 5 June 2021, Fossil Free Culture NL brought about a Butterfly Effect, an intervention that remembers Shell’s traces of extraction, toxicity, disease, war, and corruption left across communities and territories in a history that spans two centuries of colonial brutality.
Just as the butterfly effect reveals a world where even the smallest causes may have far-reaching impacts, Shell’s effect cannot be traced in its entirety. ‘Small’ actions in one place, like a cultural institution accepting money from an oil corporation, have violent reverberations elsewhere. NEMO has provided Shell with a platform to clean their public image and build on their social acceptability for 90 years, it has therefore facilitated the damage Shell has inflicted around the globe. Their responsibility must be acknowledged.
With this intervention, Fossil Free Culture NL pays tribute to the communities that were erased by Shell’s operations, and to those that still live with the damage left. At the same time, it calls on NEMO’s accountability. Fossil Free Culture NL asks specifically that NEMO:
- Commits to rule out future partnerships with fossil fuel companies.
- Creates a physical place in the museum to commemorate the history of toxic sponsorship. Shell’s partnership cannot be whitewashed; we need to remember what we cannot accept.
Butterfly Effect is a collaboration between Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik, Maria Faciolince and Fossil Free Culture NL.
All photos by Laura Ponchel