Demonstrators staged a ‘die-in’ at the Science Museum ahead of a protest at its decision to welcome military delegations from around the world before the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA).
Up to 100 people attended the event organised by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) after the museum closed to visitors on Monday (July 11) evening.
It later said one of its members was arrested at the demonstration.
However, some protesters entered the museum shortly before it closed to unfurl a banner reading ‘NO 2 arms dealers in the museum’ and staged the die-in, which saw members of the anti-arms group play dead on the floor beside another banner.
They had gathered outside the Kensington museum in Exhibition Road to protest at its decision to host a FIA welcome reception, which was attended by military delegations from around the world, including some with questionable human rights records.
Speaking on Tuesday (July 12) morning , CAAT spokesperson Andrew Smith explained why they entered the iconic venue before the protest, which ran for about two hours from 6pm.
He said: “The Science Museum would’ve made a lot of money last night from companies that make a lot of money from wars and conflicts.
“We wanted to make sure as many people as possible who visited knew what they were doing.
"It’s not the first time the Science Museum has hosted this event. But endorsements work both ways and by lending its name to Farnborough it is endorsing the event by hosting this.”
'We hope it made them think about the human cost of what their industry does'
He said some catering staff at the museum walked out when they discovered who they would be serving food to, and at the protest's peak four entrances to the museum were blocked, meaning CAAT protesters were able to come face-to-face with military delegations.
He continued: “They couldn’t help but notice us. Some turned around and went home, others had a shouting match. We hope it made them think about the human cost of what their industry does.”
Speaking ahead of the protest, Science Museum director said financial restraints played a part in accepting the FIA welcome committee corporate booking.
He said: “Our response to this fiscal challenge has involved a combination of reducing our running costs and increasing the income we generate.
“Alongside philanthropic support from individuals and companies we continue to expand the range and scope of our commercial activities, including offering spaces for hire for corporate events outside the hours when the museum is open to the public.
“Among the many corporate events taking place at the museum this year is the welcome reception for Farnborough International Airshow... We treated this event as we would a booking from any other legitimate organisation.
“The revenue generated by bookings such as this plays an important role in the funding mix that enables us to remain free to millions of visitors, run the biggest educational programme of its kind, and allows us to curate world-class exhibitions.”
FIA runs from July 11-17. The first part of the week is used for international trade and business, before the public are let in for exhibitions and aircraft displays on July 16-17.
The event website states 81 military delegations from 50 countries and 56 civil delegations from 23 countries attended the last show in 2014, which saw $204 billion orders and commitments placed.
Images in slideshow video provided by CAAT.