Hyundai announces long-term sponsorship deal with London's Tate Modern gallery

LONDON – Autos will help fund art in a long-term sponsorship deal announced Monday between Hyundai Motor Co. and Britain’s Tate Modern gallery.

Tate director Nicholas Serota said the South Korean carmaker would fund commissions for the gallery’s Turbine Hall — “the symbolic heart of the building” — until 2025. The first exhibition will open next year.

Hyundai Vice-Chairman Euisun Chung said the deal was an “inspiring collaboration bringing together two different industries — art and cars.”

Neither side disclosed the value of the deal, which succeeds a sponsorship arrangement between Tate and Unilever PLC.

Britain’s most popular art gallery, Tate Modern opened in 2000 inside a disused power station and now attracts more than 5 million visitors a year, anchoring a revitalized cultural quarter on the south bank of the River Thames in London.

Its centerpiece is a vast 500-foot by 115-foot (150-meter by 34-meter) hall that once held machinery, which has been the site of installations by artists including Louise Bourgeois, Olafur Eliasson and Ai Weiwei.

Serota said Hyundai had also given the gallery funds to buy nine works by Korean avant-garde artist Nam June Paik.

He said the deal was symbolic of Tate’s expanding international reach. It operates four galleries in Britain and has partnerships with institutions around the globe.

Tate Modern is currently building an extension that will open in 2016, linked to the existing building by a bridge over the Turbine Hall.

British Culture Secretary Maria Miller said Tate had become “one of the best-loved brands in the world.”

“Little wonder that commercial organizations want to be associated with such success,” she said.

Serota said Hyundai’s corporate partnership would help Tate open “a new chapter” but wouldn’t influence its artistic priorities.

“There is no sense in which any of the exhibitions at the Tate have ever been determined by the sponsorship,” he said.