Pastiche of El Greco's Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple

Disarm the Gallery

Under pressure from campaigners, The National Gallery ended its long-standing sponsorship arrangement with arms company Finmeccanica in 2012, one year before it was due to expire. 

Last updated 29 September 2020

Protests end National Gallery’s arms trade links

National Gallery Arms Dealers banner fisheye lens picture. Eight campaigners stand spaced out under the banner


The National Gallery’s long-standing sponsorship arrangement with weapons manufacturer Finmeccanica ended a year early in 2012, following a campaign by Campaign Against Arms Trade to Disarm the Gallery, just weeks before the next protest event was planned.

A Gallery spokesperson told CAAT that Finmeccanica had “exercised their right to terminate’ the agreement, but did not disclose the reasons behind this decision.

Italian weapon manufacturer Finmeccanica had been one of the National Gallery’s corporate benefactors since 2006. The contract was due to run until 1 October 2013.

As a result of its deal with Finmeccanica, the Gallery had hosted receptions for international arms fairs, including the official reception for London’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in September 2011 – where ten repressive regimes, including Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia were among those invited to shop for weapons.

Campaigning works

Thousands of people raised their concern with the Gallery in writing and through a series of creative interventions inside and outside the Gallery. BBC3’s The Revolution will be Televised featured a stunt where Peter Kennard’s Haywain with Cruise Missiles were added to the Gallery’s walls. Artists supported the campaign through an open letter to the Gallery and by creating their own artworks inspired by the gallery’s support for the arms trade.

The National Gallery also hosted receptions during the biennial Farnborough International, between 2006 and 2010. Following the launch of the Disarm the Gallery campaign, the gallery announced it would not be hosting any of the same events in 2012.

Arms companies and their deadly deals have no place in our treasured institutions.


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Activists protest against borders at the Stop DSEI arms fair week of action, September 2019

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