U.K. Museums Face a Sticky Problem From Climate Protests

Activists are gluing themselves to the frames of iconic paintings. They say it does not matter whether their actions are popular — only whether they are noticed.

By Alex Marshall

… Mel Carrington, a spokeswoman for Just Stop Oil, said in a telephone interview that the targeting of museums was a way of “putting psychological pressure on the government” through publicity. The Van Gogh protest had received news coverage worldwide, she said, whereas previous actions at oil terminals had not. Carrington said the protesters did not mind if people disliked their actions; they were not trying to win friends.

None of the paintings appear to have been damaged. A spokeswoman for the National Gallery said in an emailed statement that the Constable landscape “suffered minor damage to its frame and there was also some disruption to the surface of the varnish on the painting.” It returned to display on Tuesday.

Simon Gillespie, a fine art restorer, said in a telephone interview that solvents could dissolve the glues that protesters had used on the frames. “Thank goodness they haven’t chosen to glue themselves to the oil paint film, because undoing that would be very difficult,” he added.

Applying pressure to the paintings to apply posters could also cause damage, he said, but the protesters appeared to have worked to limit any harm. “They’ve been respectful,” he said…