The Natural History Museum signed a gagging order that prevented it from saying anything about the oil company.
The sponsorship of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition was sponsored by Orsted.
Oil rigs can provide shelter and a rich food supply for many animals, even though drilling for oil is not beneficial for wildlife.
Alex Mustard took a picture of a bird hunting fish beneath an offshore oil platform. There was no context about the oil industry's negative impact on the marine environment.
According to the contract obtained by Point Source, the Natural History Museum agreed to refrain from making statements that would damage the reputation of the oil company.
Environmental groups have accused the gagging clause of greenwashing. The company operated an oil and gas business in the North Sea worth more than $1 billion. The annual wildlife photography exhibition has been sponsored by the company for the past two years.
The Natural History Museum is not allowed to make any statement or issue any publicity which could be seen as damaging the reputation of the company.
Fossil Free London wants museums and art institutions in Britain to stop signing contracts with large corporations that have gagging clauses. Robin Wells said that it was unacceptable that the information the public consume in British museums was being controlled by large corporations.
The National History Museum denied that sponsors have any influence on the content of its exhibitions. It's standard for corporate partnerships but they can be open to misinterpretation when it comes to editorial control.
The Natural History Museum can provide its usual high standard of independent, critical, fact-based commentary on any aspect of the energy industry sector, if it chooses to do so, according to a spokesman for Orsted.