The International Council of Museums (ICOM), based in Berlin, has released a statement signed by 92 directors of the world’s top museums condemning climate demonstrations that endanger art masterpieces and cultural heritage. The document argues that recent actions targeting artworks in order to thrive international attention to climate issues, “severely underestimate” the fragility of paintings and put at risk their integrity and conservation.
World class institutions such as the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the Prado in Madrid, the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao have supported this public stance and appear among the signers of the statement. Museums are taking a clear position against climate demonstrations of this kind while representatives of under 200 countries are gathering in Egypt in the scope of Cop27 discussions.
Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Claude Monet’s Les Meules (Haystacks), Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa have been the most notorious targets of activist groups such as Just Stop Oil or Extinction Rebellion whose actions have been condemned as vandalism. The attacks have implied food thrown to the paintings or activists gluing themselves to the artworks. Despite the paintings were always protected with a resistant layer of glass, world museums now affirms that demonstrators “severely underestimate the fragility of these irreplaceable objects, which must be preserved as part of our world cultural heritage.”
However, these actions managed to attract global attention and repeatedly titled global news around the world. Despite this trend, museums’ directors “will continue to advocate for direct access to our cultural heritage. And we will maintain the museum as a free space for social communication,” as affirmed in the statement released by ICOM.
Villa Angelica, More Than 90 Museum Leaders Decry Climate Protests in Institutions, Citing ‘Fragility’ of Art, ArtNews, 10/11/2022, https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/museum-leaders-decry-stop-oil-protests-targeting-art-1234646235/
Walker Lina, World art museums release statement accusing protesters of ‘underestimating fragility’ of artworks, ABC News, 11/11/2022, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-11/museums-release-joined-statement-condemning-art-vandalism/101644298
‘Attacks on art’: Museums condemn climate protests, TRT World, 14/11/2022, https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/attacks-on-art-museums-condemn-climate-protests-62540
Top museums condemn climate protests, DW, 11/11/2022, https://www.dw.com/en/top-museums-condemn-climate-protests/a-63718329