Environmental groups are upset over a decision to rename a room at the Canadian Museum of Nature after corporate mining giant Barrick Gold.

Barrick Gold Corp., based out of Toronto, purchased the room's naming rights for about $1 million. The new "Barrick Salon" is the museum's premier rental space featuring a circular room with glass windows from floor to ceiling.

The decision had activists protest at the museum Tuesday, a few hours before the official naming reception that includes Barrick Gold executives.

They believe mining companies do not put nature before their own business practice.

The museum does not believe the purchase violates any rules or ethics and said the corporation will not be involved in any museum exhibits.

Museum needs money for exhibits

"It's definitely not a partnership, it's a sponsorship," said Elizabeth McCrea, the museum's director of communications. "We're always looking at increasing self-generated revenue and this is one way that we're doing it."

McCrea also said the museum needs the money to refurbish exhibits of some of the world's natural wonders.

"It's something we need to do. Every institution is in the fundraising mode," she said.

Corporate sponsorships at museums have been a hotly contested issue.

In January, CBC News learned Imperial Oil was found to have had an active hand in an energy exhibit it sponsored at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology.