If we want to create advocates for the planet and meet our mission of galvanising a movement of millions around the planet to speak up and act for nature, then we need to be the most inclusive Museum we can be. Our vision is a future where both people and planet thrive – so we must be a museum for all people.
We know we’re racing against time and there’s a lot of work to do. We do not want to shy away from acknowledging our origins and our past: the Natural History Museum was founded within the context of empire, colonialism and exploitation, and the hallmarks of this legacy exist in our collections and galleries. We know we need to face uncomfortable truths, and take proactive steps to not just say, but to show, what we’re doing to overcome misconceptions around who the Museum is for today.
We’ve worked hard to embed equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) in every aspect of our work. This ranges from seeking ways to better represent all audiences in our own workforce to understanding the changes we must make to make the Museum a more welcoming and engaging place for everyone. Through action like this, we hope to best understand the barriers some communities encounter to visiting the Museum – and critically – what we must do to remove them.
We were horrified and saddened to see hateful rhetoric being expressed at a private event at the Museum and then shared on social media recently.
Had we anticipated some of the rhetoric that was expressed at the event, we would not have permitted it to be held on our site. We should have anticipated this, but because of a genuine mistake our usual processes were not followed, and we take full responsibility for this. We’re taking immediate action to fix the mistakes that led to this, and we are consulting colleagues on the best way to use the proceeds from this hire of our venue.
It was particularly painful to see an image of Hope the Whale used to illustrate a tweet alongside rhetoric that minimised the horrors of the Holocaust. We didn’t call out and reject these posts as we should have done when they were first published and gathering attention. We want to apologise and unreservedly reject any association of these messages with the Museum.
We want to make clear that we utterly abhor the statements made and we are sorry they were shared with imagery of the Museum. None of our colleagues attended this event (which was hosted by a third party who hired the space), but we didn’t make this sufficiently clear in our response.
We commit to doing better
We are immensely proud of, and remain committed to, the huge amounts of work teams are doing and the progress we are making to engage with people from marginalised communities locally, nationally and internationally. This is being spearheaded by our passionate colleagues and is truly making a difference.
We know we have a lot more to do to make the Museum a welcoming space for all and that new and growing partnerships require trust which can easily be eroded. Engaging and involving the widest audience possible is central to our mission: we apologise for our mistake, for the association of these views with the Museum, and commit to doing better.