Unilever pulls sponsorship of Tate Modern's Turbine Hall

  • @matildbattersby

Brand conglomerate Unilever is ending its sponsorship of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall after 12 years and 13 commissions.

The £4.41m sponsorship between the gallery and the company whose brands include Dove soap and PG Tips started in 2000. It started with Louise Bourgeois giant spider and has allowed artists such as Anish Kapoor, Bruce Nauman and Rachel Whiteread to take over the 3,400 square metre space in the former power station.

Most famous of the Unilever series includes Ai Weiwei’s 2010 piece, for which he filled the huge gallery with thousands of porcelain sunflower seed sculptures. Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project drew huge interest in 2004, when he created an artificial sunset on the Hall’s ceiling.

The current Turbine Hall exhibit will be the final in the Unilever Series. German artist Tino Sehgal’s commission called These Associations, the first live performance piece in the space, which opened last month, will signal the end of the Unilever partnership when it closes on 28 October.

"We are very proud of what the Tate and we have achieved with The Unilever Series. By the time the Tino Sehgal commission closes, the Unilever Series will have showcased the work of some of the world's most imaginative and exciting modern artists," Sue Garrard, Unilever SVP Communications said.

The Turbine Hall, which has attracted nearly 30 million visitors since it opened in 2000, will stand empty in 2013 due to planned building work to extend the Tate Modern.

Tate said it would begin exploring alternative sponsorship options for the Turbine Hall for 2014. Other major Tate sponsors include oil company BP and Bloomberg business and financial news company.

A spokeswoman for Tate said: "We will start discussions with other companies about the sponsorship of the Turbine Hall commission from 2014 onwards."

The first phase of a £215m project to overhaul the Tate Modern and build a new wing opened last month with the inauguration of its £90m performance art and video space The Tanks. The Government has invested £50m in the project, with a further £7m from the Greater London Authority.

Unilever will continue to support Tate as a corporate member.