Should Science Museums Worry About Their Donors' Views?
John Schwartz of the NY Times reports that a group of people worried about climate change are questioning the way that some science museums accept money from donors who are skeptical about whether human activity is driving climate change. Who's in the spot light? David Koch, one of the owners of Koch Industries, a large conglomerate that produces many products, among them refined petroleum who also sits on the board of several museums including the American Museum of Natural History.
Who's shining the light? A number of scientists who are gathered together under the umbrella of "The Natural History Museum", a small mobile museum housed in a bus. The group's web site says that unlike many larger institutions, it "makes a point to include and highlight the socio-political forces that shape nature."
Schwartz's article notes that the museums routinely ask donors to sign documents acknowledging that the gifts come with no strings attached.
Can a museum turn down funding from generous sponsors? Is it the job of a museum to choose winners? Should the be a litmus test for board members? Can a museum wade into the political currents? More and more boards and directors will be asking these very questions.