AMNH Drops Gala Honoring Brazilian President Bolsonaro

Last week, it made headlines that the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was serving as the venue for a gala dinner honoring Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right president of Brazil. The Brazilian-American Chamber of Congress rented AMNH for their May 14 gala. Bolsonaro will be honored as “Person of the Year.” Outcry from both within AMNH and externally mounted increasing pressure for the institution to drop the event.

Bolsonaro’s policies are racist, misogynist, and anti-LGBTQ+. He has rolled back environmental protections and referred to indigenous reservations in the amazon as “chicken pox” that disrupt the logging and mining business in the delicate Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro’s practices are the opposite of AMNH’s mission, “To discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.” And so employees at the museum spoke up, some even threatening to resign. Members of the scientific community along with activists, and even Mayor de Blasio condemned the museum, calling for them to drop the gala.

On April 15th, AMNH announced on Twitter that they are no longer hosting the gala honoring Bolsonaro as Person of the Year. The Brazilian Chamber of Commerce’s website now says that an “upscale venue” will “be announced soon.”

Marabou is inspired to see that museum workers, scientists, activists, and others were able to pressure AMNH to drop the gala. But people are still wondering why it took internal and external outcry for the museum to take action, why not drop the event as soon as Bolsonaro was announced as honoree? Let’s keep asking these questions. Although AMNH made the right step, we need to hold our museums accountable. This is an ongoing process. Monsanto is listed as a major donor to AMNH’s Hall of Biodiversity that opened in 1998. Marabou wonders what type of relationship AMNH has with Monsanto now…

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