British Museum shuts early after protest by pro-Palestine climate activists

The British Museum closed its doors to visitors early on Sunday after protesters staged a demonstration against climate change and in support of Palestine.

The London museum said on its website that it closed at 2.45pm following demonstrations outside by Energy Embargo for Palestine.

Guests who entered the building prior to the protests were reportedly still inside as people demonstrated outside.

One woman, who was visiting London from India, said she missed out on her only chance to visit the museum before returning home.

Aditi Jadhav, 33, said the British Museum was “the last thing” on her and her husband’s itinerary.

She told the MailOnline: “The museum had a section on India and Egypt that we so wanted to see - we really rushed here to see it.”

Meanwhile, Gzim, who sells caramelised peanuts outside the venue, said the protesters are “really annoying” for disrupting his business. In a statement, Energy Embargo for Palestine said: “Over two hundred activists staged a mass disruption on the pavement outside of the main entrance of the museum.”

A British Museum spokeswoman said: “The British Museum respects other people’s right to express their views and allows peaceful protest onsite at the museum as long as there is no risk to the collection, staff or visitors.”

The museum closes at 5pm every day except Fridays, and those who bought tickets will be given a refund or have their visit moved to another day, it is understood.

The Met police said no arrests were made, and the incident was largely dealt with by the museum’s security team.

Energy Embargo for Palestine, which previously organised a protest at the Great Court alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and has also protested at the British Museum before, objects to the museum’s partnership with BP.

The campaigners accuse BP of attempting to “greenwash” its actions by sponsoring the museum.

They also objected to the British Museum confirming in December that BP will sponsor the museum for another decade following a £50 million deal to help fund its renovations plans.

Energy Embargo for Palestine said the museum “is the main platform for the social licence of BP, legitimises its philanthropic efforts, and enshrines its image of corporate responsibility and contribution to British society and culture”.

It has cited six companies including BP being given gas exploration licences for off the coast of Israel, according to an October announcement.

BP has been contacted by the Standard for comment.

It is understood the Met advised for the building to be closed to the public.