Scientists ask natural history museums to cut ties with David Koch


Grizzly bear sighting at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (author photo for Hyperallergic)

In an open letter released today, 39 scientists are calling on natural history and science museums to sever ties with climate change deniers. The signatories notably cite David Koch and his support for both the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). The billionaire has supported dinosaur galleries in both, including an extension under construction at the Smithsonian, to which he has donated $ 35 million.

“We are deeply concerned about the links between science and natural history museums with those who profit from fossil fuels or fund lobby groups that distort climate science,” reads the letter, hosted and published by the Natural History Museum, a mobile museum founded by the artistic collective Not an Alternative. While ‘those who profit from fossil fuels’ cover a good chunk of the United States, there is legitimate concern that the people who support climate change denial – like Koch – are major forces in museum funding. scientists. For example, a 2010 New Yorker history noted that “The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is a multimedia exploration of the theory that humanity evolved in response to climate change. … The exhibition gives the impression that it is part of a natural continuum.

Along with the letter, the Natural History Museum shared an online petition which, at the time of writing, had more than 25,500 signatures.

The letter follows the commotion against Koch at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the David H. Koch Plaza was unveiled last fall, supported by a $ 65 million donation. This demonstration included members of the Illuminator projecting the words “Koch = Climate Chaos” onto the building. Koch is on the board of trustees of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the AMNH, and as Smithsonian spokesperson Randall Kremer told the Washington post, he and all the other administrators know full well that these museums display information on climate change. This statement does not, however, resolve lingering concerns about the implications of museums accepting high-level donations from individuals that may defeat their objectives.

Read the entire open letter on the website of the Natural History Museum.

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