museum of London, host an arms dealer

Design museum of London, host an arms dealer. Now artists refuse to show there.

The museum organized an event for an Italian aerospace company that is accused of helping dictatorial regimes.

Design museum of London, host an arms dealer. Now artists refuse to show there.


The Design Museum in London is faced with a flood of criticism for hosting a private reception for Italian airline Leonardo on 17 July in collaboration with the Farnborough International Airshow. The Campaign Against Arms Trade has named the air show an arms fair and has published an open letter from artists who demand that the museum remove its work from the exhibition by the end of the month.

Design museum of London, host an arms dealer. Now artists refuse to show there.


The museum’s current exhibition “Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics, 2008-2018” examines the ways in which graphic design has influenced politics over the past decade, starting with the famous HOPE poster designed by Shepard Fairey for the campaign of President Barack Obama in 2008. The show includes posters and other artworks made for movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Umbrella Revolution of Hong Kong, as well as Fairey’s “We the People” posters for the 2017 Women’s March.

“It is hypocritical that the museum shows and celebrates the work of radical anti-corporate artists and activists, while quietly supporting and benefiting from one of the most destructive and deadly industries in the world,” said the letter. “‘Hope to Nope’ makes the museum progressive and advanced, while management and trustees like to take blood money from arms dealers. ‘

Among the signatories are 27 artists and collectives with work currently on display in the institution, as well as six artists who have participated in exhibition programs.

“I borrowed items from the museum that I saved from the demonstrations of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 for democracy in Hong Kong,” said Sampson Wong to activist art collective BP or not to BP? , who published a blog post explaining their decision to boycott the exhibition. “I am shocked that at the same time that they celebrate our protest material superficially, the museum organizes a reception for companies such as Chemring, the arms dealers who supplied the tear gas that was used with us.”


Design museum of London, host an arms dealer. Now artists refuse to show there.


“We are working on responding to each contributor regarding the rendering of their work,” said a representative of the Design Museum in response to a question from artnet News. “The museum is sad that they may want to remove their work before the end of the exhibition and it will be a missed opportunity to share the important design stories behind these exhibitions.”

According to his website, Leonardo produces commercial and military aircraft and helicopters, satellites, ship artillery, security systems, missiles and missile systems and other electronics. The Campaign Against Arms Trade claims that it is the ninth-largest arms company in the world and has helped to “allow human rights that abuse regimes and dictatorships”.

Of the 40 aircraft that flew during the London Airshow, the vast majority of commercial vehicles, transport aircraft and historic military aircraft were no longer in active military production. A press release praised the sale of more than 530 aircraft during the first two days of the event, accounting for $ 95.5 billion in revenue, but did not specify the percentage of military equipment. No details were released on other arms or weapon technology sales, although Leonardo presented his “maritime safety and rescue, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and training & light attack”, as well as the AW101 helicopter for the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the P-72A maritime patrol aircraft of the Italian Air Force.

“As a charitable organization, 98 percent of the museum’s operating costs come from withdrawals, retail, fundraising, and event rental, like the one being organized that night,” the Design Museum told the Guardian, adding that it “focuses on achieving its charitable purpose “promote the education of the public in the study of all forms of design and architecture and is thus a place of debate that by definition welcomes a number of voices and commercial entities. However, we take the response to the Tuesday event seriously and we review our due diligence policies regarding commercial and fundraising activities. ”

The letter calls on the museum not to accept any more funds from weapons, tobacco and fossil fuel companies. Read it completely below.

Best Design Museum,

We write as artists, designers and activists whose work can be seen in your current ‘Hope to Nope’ exhibition, the permanent collection of the museum and for sale in your store.


Best Design Museum,

We write as artists, designers and activists whose work can be seen in your current ‘Hope to Nope’ exhibition, the permanent collection of the museum and for sale in your store.

Last week we were upset when we heard that the museum was organizing an arms trade event as part of the Farnborough International arms fair. This happened on the evening of Tuesday, July 17, along with a discussion on the role of social media and design in contemporary politics of social justice as part of the Hope to Nope event season.

It is hypocritical that the museum exhibits and celebrates the work of radical anti-artists artists and activists, while it quietly supports and benefits from one of the most destructive and deadly industries in the world. Hope to Nope makes the museum progressive and advanced, while management and trustees like to buy blood money from arms dealers.

We refuse to use our art in this way. Particularly shocking is the fact that one of the exhibits (the BP logo of Shakespeare from BP or not BP?) Explicitly challenges the unethical financing of art and culture. Meanwhile, many of the protest images in the exhibition show that people oppose the same repressive regimes that are armed by companies involved in the Farnborough arms fair. It even contains art of protests that were suppressed with the help of British weapons.

We therefore ask that our artwork be immediately removed from the exhibition. The specific documents are listed below. We will not associate our names and our work with an institution that actively supports the arms industry. This request is also supported by speakers and other contributors to Hope to Nope and related events.

After a few private communications with senior museum staff, we now consider it important to make this request public. The ethics of our national museums is an important issue of public interest, and other artists and designers whose work is featured in the Design Museum also have the right to know that the gallery where their work is displayed is leased to arms dealers.

In your communication with us and others up to now, you have not been sufficiently concerned with our concerns. Instead, you tried to avoid responsibility for deciding to organize an arms fair event, a ‘private event for which there is no approval by the museum’. But by organizing an event for – and taking money from – an industry that many other art institutions rightly consider to be outside an ethical red line, you have made a very clear statement that you do not share these concerns and would like to allow war profitees to use your spaces if the price is right.

Museums are not neutral spaces – every decision about what is displayed, how it is labeled and how it is financed, is political and reveals something about the underlying values ​​of the institution. By organizing an event in the arms industry, the Design Museum presents values ​​that strongly contradict most of the art in Hope to Nope, which wants to use the power of design to challenge powerful elites and promote peace and justice.

We want to make it clear that our criticism is aimed at the management and the trustees of the Design Museum, not at the curators who have made a fantastic showcase of radical art and have no say in the arms fair. We were all proud of the inclusion in Hope to Nope and do not take this action lightly.

The museum could avoid these controversies in the future by developing a publicly available ethical financing policy that specifically refuses funds from industries that are generally accepted as inappropriate partners for art organizations, namely weapons, tobacco and fossil fuel companies. Once this is in place, we consider working together again with the museum.

Confirm that our work will be destroyed by August 1st, because our art is now shown in your museum without your permission.

Signatories (people with specific art in the exhibition, permanent collection and for sale in the store)

BP or not BP? and Stig, designer (BP ruff)

Pavel Arsenev, Laboratory for poetic action theory (banner ‘You can not even imagine’)

Roman Osminkin, poet, artist, activist, Russia of St. Petersburg (‘You can not even imagine’)

Kathrin Böhm, co-founder of Company Drinks (6 bottles of Sour Brexit)

Keep it Complex, Make it Clear arts collective (association material against the Defenders)

Peter Marcuse and Bill Posters, Brandalism Collective (undermining ads)

James Moulding en Dr. Richard Barbrook, Games for the Many (Corbyn Run)

Fraser Muggeridge (installatie van Spectres of Modernism)

Noel Douglas, Occupy Design Collective (Occupy Design-website en -materialen)

Kiran Chahal en Stephanie Turner (co-ontwerpers van Grenfell ‘Wall of Truth’ – ‘The Truth Will not Be Hidden’)

Paolo Pedercini, Molleindustria, (“Casual Games for Protesters”)

Jonathan Barnbrook (affiche van Brandalism VW)

The Space Kapers (Official Olympics Protestor t-shirt)

Charlie Waterhouse en Clive Russell, This Is not Rock’n’Roll (Brixtopia & The Brixton Pound)

Peter Kennard (‘Union Mask’ in de permanente collectie display ‘Designer User Maker’ – gedoneerd aan Design Museum)

Bezet Londen (campagnemateriaal en kopieën van Occupied Times)

Benny Tai, een van de initiatiefnemers van de Occupy Central met Love and Peace Movement en een kerndeelnemer van de Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong

Sampson Wong (Umbrella Movement Visual Archive)

Sarah Corbett, Craftivist Collective (minibanner, ambachtelijke doe-het-zelf-kits, in museumwinkel)

Jamie, Bristol Streetwear (Corbyn T-shirt met Nike swoosh)

Tim Fishlock, Oddly Head (Slogans in Nice letterbeelden zal het affiche van Human Races niet opslaan)

dr.d (Curfew Social Cleansing-poster)

Matt Huynh (Occuped Wall Street Journal cover)

Malu Halasa (auteur, Syria Spreekt: kunst en cultuur van de frontlinie)

Shelley Hoffman (Black Lives Quatter quilt)

Supporters (mensen die hebben deelgenomen aan evenementen met betrekking tot de tentoonstelling)

Ash Sarkar (redacteur, schrijver, docent)

Gavin Grindon (conservator, ongehoorzame voorwerpen, Victoria & Albert Museum)

Catherine Flood (conservator, ongehoorzame voorwerpen, Victoria & Albert Museum)

Matt Bonner (ontwerper)

Mel Evans (auteur, Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts)

Michael Oswell (Studio Accelorata Jengold)

Joshua Wong (Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong)

“Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics, 2008-2018” is te zien in het Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, Londen, tot en met 12 augustus 2018.


Kind regards Pierre

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