'Shell is Proud to Present… The Spirit Sings’: Museum Sponsorship and Public Relations in Oil Country

Camille-Mary Sharp


This article re-examines the renowned Canadian exhibition, The Spirit Sings: Artistic Traditions of Canada’s First Peoples (1988) through a lens of corporate, national, and institutional interests. The author positions The Spirit Sings as a productive historical case study for contemporary questions of decolonization and divestment in museums. Using archival and interview findings from her doctoral research, the author highlights the sponsorship and public relations elements of the exhibition, which she argues have been missing from past analyses. Ultimately, the author uses this case study to question the relevance of current debates over oil sponsorship for museums that operate within extractive economies. The article concludes by calling for further critical research around the organizational processes of museums and their participation in corporate legitimation.


The Spirit Sings; oil; sponsorship; Glenbow Museum; protest; divestment; decolonization; extractivism

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v20i2.3780

Copyright (c) 2022 Camille-Mary Sharp

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

University Home