We are a registered charity and the only specialist art museum in Europe addressing universal and ever-more central issues of identity and migration through the visual arts.
Emerging from and representing the Jewish community, our collection principally reflects the work, lives and contribution of British and European artists of Jewish descent, interpreted within the wider context of twentieth and twenty-first century art history, politics and society.
From our inception as an art society in Whitechapel in 1915, to our current status as a museum with an international reach, the collection has grown to more than 1300 works across 30 different mediums. Made up of both historical and contemporary works, the Ben Uri collection spans 120 years and includes 380 artists from 35 countries, of which 67% are émigrés and 27% women. Find out more about our history in our 100 year timeline, online gallery and archives and how we’re now looking for a new home.
From out temporary exhibition space in St. John’s Wood, we have an exciting and varied exhibition programme, exploring and incorporating works from our own collection. We have an extensive education programme for teachers, schools and families, including free visits, workshops, art classes and projects with local schools. We also have an art and wellbeing programme and work in collaboration with three community partners.
Our Centenary (1915-2015)
Thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, we’re able to celebrate our centenary this year with a major exhibition in Somerset House: Out Of Chaos; Ben Uri: 100 Years in London (2 July – 13 December 2015) in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing in association with the Cultural Institute at King’s College London, showcasing works usually hidden from view, including David Bomberg, Jacob Epstein, Mark Gertler, Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach, alongside their international contemporaries.
We are also running two other exhibitions during our centenary year: Time Out’s recommended ‘No Set Rules’: a collaborative exhibition with Southampton City Art Gallery which explores the limitless possibilities of working on paper based at our gallery in St John’s Wood and Arts in Harmony: An art gallery’s musical heritage which is based at the Royal College of Music’s Museum of Music.
Currently based in a small temporary gallery in St. John’s Wood, the majority of Ben Uri’s collection and archive remains frustratingly inaccessible to the public, which is something the gallery’s aspirations beyond this exhibition aim to change. We’re currently looking for and fundraising towards a central London space to house its extensive collection. As well as making the collection permanently available to the public, the move will also complete our evolution into the Museum of Art, Identity and Migration, examining the capital’s diversity in modern times.
The museum would be the first of its kind in London, creating an international centre of scholarship and learning focused on the themes of identity and migration, underpinned by Ben Uri’s history and collection. The new museum will be a first in many distinctive ways, not least by sharing its space with other émigré communities, using the joint exhibition programme to tell their stories of journeying to and living in London through the exhibition of their art. More about Shaping the Future from the Past in blog by David Glasser, Ben Uri’s Executive Chairman.
Discover more about our work, the full collection and how you can get involved on our website www.BenUri.org