our core programming revolves around our research unit,
our collection, and ARTS AND MENTAL HEALTH
Research Unit (BURU)
BURU incorporates the Museum's Collection, Exhibitions, Publications, Archive, Library, and the physical and digital dissemination of all programming.
BURU has created the country’s first digital resource that comprehensively records the Jewish and immigrant communities contribution to the visual arts in Britain since 1900. This is a long term ongoing commitment.
In the past twenty years Ben Uri has curated some 100 distinctive exhibitions, toured to some 25 different locations worldwide and written and published some 40 scholarly catalogues and monographs which are distributed nationally and internationally.
The Ben Uri collections span over 120 years and is composed of some 440 artists from 44 countries, of which 60% are émigrés and 29% are women. We have defined the 1100 strong collections into three categories: Pre-eminent; some 100 works which are protected in perpetuity within a separate legal trust; Core; some 740 works and Reference representing 250 non accession works. Since 2002, the commitment to building the Collection within carefully crafted and qualitative criteria has led to world-class additions by artists including Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Marc Chagall, Jacob Epstein, Eva Frankfurther, Mark Gertler, George Grosz, Dora Holzhandler, Josef Herman, Peter Howson, Edith Kiss, Emmanuel Levy, Max Liebermann, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Jacqueline Nicholls, Orovida Pissarro, Kurt Schwitters, Chaïm Soutine, Alfred Wolmark, and Clare Winsten. None of these acquisitions would have been possible without the greatly appreciated financial support of Art Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and like-minded philanthropists.
Arts and Mental Health (BUAH)
This decade long objective is to identify through research and evaluation, 1) why and what are the elements of an art work that trigger the most engagement and responses from those who live in social isolation and/or with dementia, and 2) how best in terms of cost and effectivness to dessiminate such programmes with the 70+ demographics, of which 95% live in their own homes.
We have already published some 100 different evaluated programmes in this site, as well as 'how to' training films and toolkits. We have established that the most cost-effective means of engaging the growing 70+ demographics, currently over 7 million in the UK, and forecast to double in quantum and percentage of population, is through the digital format. This is our principle objective.
Ben Uri surpasses ethnic, cultural and religious obstacles to engagement within the arts sector, addresses contemporary and historical issues of identity and migration, and celebrates, researches and records the richly diverse Jewish and immigrant contribution to the visual arts since 1900.
Presenting and sharing art differently, we have encouraged people to explore their own and their community's identity and creativity. We engage and deliver this outcome through three distinctive and fully interlinked divisions.
Ben Uri was founded by Lazar Berson, an émigré Russian artist, in 1915 in Whitechapel in London.
It originally was an art venue for Jewish immigrant artists who were unable to gain access to mainstream art societies at that time, due to the social discrimination and obstacles faced by migrant communities. A registered charity as well as a museum, Ben Uri was the cornerstone of the Jewish community’s cultural activity until the late 1970s. Ben Uri Art Society, as it was then, lost its gallery in 1995 when the synagogue building, in which it was housed, was sold.
A new Board of Trustees was elected in October 2000, led by current Executive Chair, David Glasser, to deliver a radical strategy to reshape and reposition the institution. The charity/museum was relaunched in 2001 by the new Board, with a new name, Ben Uri Gallery and Museum. It rented its current temporary gallery in St. John’s Wood in June 2002. It was seen as a ‘start up’ museum, piloting its way into the centre of Britain’s mainstream arena.
Since 2001, Ben Uri has curated some 100 exhibitions, toured to 25 different cities across 3 continents, published over 40 books and catalogues which have been distributed nationally and internationally. Ben Uri has produced over 100 short films. Its scholarship on Jewish and immigrant artists is recognised internationally. Ben Uri has also pioneered a new approach to using art differently through its Arts and Dementia programming within its Arts and Health Institute. Working with universities, the content and structure are the result of research and evaluation. The objective is to upscale and establish a new national standard for art interventions.
BEN URI GALLERY AND MUSEUM
108a Boundary Road,
off Abbey Road,
St John’s Wood,
Currently closed for refurbishment
Registered in England 01488690
Registered Charity 280389