The activist organizations Just Stop Oil and Ultima Generazione respectively, have been attaching themselves to famous works of art across cultural institutions in the U.K. and Italy as a way of bringing attention to the climate crisis. Both groups have a simple message: their countries should not be approving any new gas and oil leases. Starting on August 22, German climate activists began replicating the action in German museums.
The actions began when Just Stop Oil activists glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart’s in the Highlands (1860) on June 29 at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. The Italian activists began their actions on July 22 when they attached themselves to the glass in front of Botticelli’s Primavera (1477) in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Thus far, none of the artworks the activists have attached themselves to have been damaged as the activists do not glue themselves to the art works but their frames, pedestals, or, in the case of Primavera, protective glass. Members of Ultima Generazione have also cuffed themselves to a cathedral.
The legal costs of doing such actions is being covered by the California-based Climate Emergency Fund, who gave the organizations a total of a $1 million, according to the Observer.
Why have these activists chosen to bring the climate fight to museums? Simon Bramwell, the cofounder of Extinction Rebellion who participated in one of these actions explained why in an interview with ARTnews: “Politics will always follow culture, so it’s absolutely vital that we hold the ideals of our cultural institutions to account. And the hour is late. As a planet, we’re waking up to the fact that a 1.5-degree [Celsius] increase means catastrophe and that figure’s already in the rearview mirror. If we hit 2 degrees, that could mean that 20 percent of the Earth becomes uninhabitable. It’s time to bring the institutions of our culture on board in regards to the truth telling of these times.”
Below is a continuously updated list of these protests in chronological order.