Ben Uri’s Centenary Year 2015: What has Ben Uri Achieved?
In 2015 Ben Uri will reach its centenary year. From humble beginnings as an East End Yiddish art society, Ben Uri has grown into an art museum and educational organisation with a gallery space in St. John’s Wood and an extensive collection of over 1,300 works by predominantly Jewish artists, two thirds of whom are émigrés. As a non-government funded charity, everything that Ben Uri has achieved over the past 14 years, since its reopening in Boundary Road, has been the result of direct support from visitors and the local community, it’s undoubtedly true that without your support we would have failed long ago. As we approach Ben Uri’s 100th Birthday, here are some of our greatest recent achievements:
The Ben Uri Collection, Exhibitions and Academic Research
Apart from the 1,300 strong collection of works by Jewish and émigré artists, Ben Uri hosts a rolling programme of historical and contemporary temporary exhibitions within its gallery space. Ben Uri also continues to expand its collection, with a number of high profile acquisitions in recent years including rare and important artworks by Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine.
- In 2014 our curators presented a collaborative paper at the 40th anniversary conference of the Association of Art Historians at the RCA, London.
- In 2014 Rachel Dickson and Sarah MacDougall, Ben Uri’s Head of Curatorial Services and Head of Collections respectively, were appointed to the committee of the IGRS at the University of London, enabling Ben Uri’s focus on émigré research to be channeled directly into current academia (you can find details of all papers and publications here: http://po.st/nQdmRQ)
- 2013/14 saw the Curatorial Team present ‘Uproar!’: The First 50 Years of the London Group 1913-1963 which attracted more than 5,500 visitors to the gallery, our single largest total for any one exhibition.
- In 2013 Ben Uri was approached and interviewed by the BBC, Channel 4, Jewish Network 1 and CNBC abouy the debate over Nazi-looted art and Degenerate Art in the wake of the recent discovery of the Munich cache.
- 2012/13 Ben Uri presented Judy Chicago and Louise Bourgeois, Helen Chadwick, Tracey Emin – A Transatlantic Dialogue, the first museum survey for the iconic American feminist artist in the UK, and Ben Uri’s first opportunity to engage with the current debate on feminism and the place of women within the arts.
Apocalypse en Lilas, Capriccio by Marc Chagall (1945). Acquired by Ben Uri in 2010
Ben Uri’s Education and Learning Department
Over the past five years Ben Uri has developed a distinctive strategy to engage in meaningful learning dialogues with students across the United Kingdom. This includes free downloadable learning resources, family and holiday events within the gallery space and guided tours of Ben Uri’s exhibitions for children from local schools:
- 2012/13 saw the Education Team at Ben Uri provide over 6000 direct opportunities for learning through art!
- Our family day activities are always free of charge, your funding helps to keep it this way.
- Learning resources: Ben Uri creates education packs about the collection and its temporary exhibitions which are completely free for schools. Last year our resources were used by over 10,000 teachers and pupils (You can download Ben Uri’s learning packs here: po.st/hPSo3i).
- Ben Uri offers exhibition spaces for schools and local community partner projects. This Spring we supported an exhibition of photography by local South Hampstead and Kilburn Community Partnership students.
Family Learning Day at the Ben Uri Gallery in 2013
The Ben Uri Gallery
Ben Uri has spent the last fourteen years since reopening in 2000 forging links with the local community as well as the wider gallery and museum world through publications, special events and touring exhibitions.
- In 2014 Ben Uri is set to host an external exhibition in Cork Street, showing our influence in the heart of central London.
- 2013/14 saw the publishing of Ben Uri’s most ambitious catalogue to date. Designed to accompany our London Group exhibition ‘Uproar!’, it included contributions from over 40 academics and specialists in 20th century art.
- In 2013 Ben Uri was loaned artworks from more than 40 institutions and individuals across the country for ‘Uproar!’, including the Courtauld and the National Gallery.
- In 2013 Ben Uri exhibited at the Museums Association conference and the Jewish Living Expo, reaching new audiences in cultural and community circles.
- Touring exhibitions: From London to Paris: Soutine and his Contemporaries (2012) toured to Manchester, and Whitechapel at War: Isaac Rosenberg and his circle (2008) toured to the Stanley and Audrey Burton Art Gallery at the University of Leeds.
The ‘Uproar!’: The First 50 Years of the London Group 1913 – 1963 exhibition catalogue
Support Ben Uri
This is just a brief glance at what Ben Uri has achieved in recent years through the generous financial support of its donors, but there is much more planned for the future! Ben Uri needs your support to continue its work and to plan our centenary year exhibition at Somerset House’s Inigo Rooms in 2015. You can find out more about joining the Centenary Club as part of our 2015 appeal here http://po.st/uLcSeJ