Shell breaks ties with National Gallery

Monday 22nd October 2018 | Jake

The fraught, controversial relationship between Shell and the National Gallery in London has finally come to an end after 12 years.

Since the sponsorship was announced, campaigners have targeted the deal, infuriated by the fossil fuel industry’s attempts to airbrush its image. Campaigns have included the unveiling of a huge protest banner over the building, and gatecrashing launches of new exhibitions, most notably Rembrandt. Similar protests saw BP cut ties with the Tate in 2016.


Although the sponsorship expired in January of this year, it was only publicly revealed in late October. The timing of the reveal seems particularly apt considering the UN’s damning report into climate change, released on the 8th of October, outlining that there were only 12 years left to limit impending climate catastrophe.

However, for all the joy over Shell’s divorce with art institutions, they are becoming worryingly keen on infiltrating science ones. Shell has recently begun diverging funding from arts to sciences, even running an event named ‘Make the Future’. Make the Future is attended by schoolchildren.

Although there are signs that foosil fuel giants like Shell are beginning to divest away from fossil fuels towards renewables, it seems clear that they are aware that sponsoring art institutions to clean up their image isn't working, so many fossil fuel giants are adjusting their campaign strategies to target science institutions, attempting to win over the people most likely to affect their business.

Meanwhile BP still sponsor the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. There is much work to be done.