• Visit our Ben Uri collection

    here
     

    We hold Europe’s only collection dedicated to Jewish and immigrant artists comprising some 880 works by some 290 artists from some 35 countries of birth.

     

    The Pre-eminent Collection includes important examples by Frank Auerbach, Martin Bloch, David Bomberg, Marc Chagall, Jacob Epstein, Eva Frankfurther, Mark Gertler, George Grosz, Josef Herman, Peter Howson, Leon Kossoff, Max Liebermann, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, Isaac Rosenberg, Kurt Schwitters, Chaïm Soutine, Tam Joseph, Clare Winsten and Alfred Wolmark, among others.

     

    The Core Collection includes fine works by Jankel Adler, Jacob Bornfriend, Sonia Delaunay, Dodo (Dörte Bürgner), Hans Feibusch, Max Sokol, Elisabeth Tomalin, and many others, supported by a wide-ranging body of reference works.

     

    ART, IDENTITY AND MIGRATION 

     

    The 20th century was notable for many migrations to Great Britain. The turn of the century was the turn of east European Jews finding refuge here from the Russian pogroms. The 1930s and 1940s saw central European Jews escaping Nazi tyranny before and during the Second World War. The British Nationality Act of 1948 gave citizens of the British colonies status and the right to settle in the UK, encouraging the mass migration of people from the Caribbean to Britain between 1948 and 1970, who were referred to as the Windrush Generation. Following the expulsion of all 50,000 Gujarati Indians from Uganda under the dictator Idi Amin between 1965-1972, many Ugandan Asians came over to Britain. Likewise, the independence of India and Pakistan from British rule in 1947 saw a steady flow of émigrés arriving to Britain, as well as an influx of refugees from Hungary following the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Since the expansion of the EU in 2004, the UK has accepted immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, Malta and Cyprus.

     

    Today, the phrase ‘émigré’ may have a different meaning. So many of us choose to live in other countries for pleasure, work and study, but there remains the same challenge of integration and settling in a foreign land.

     

    It is this study of art, migration and identity that lies at the heart of Ben Uri’s work. We continue to explore the artistic transition of artists today as we have for over a century, and since 2001 irrespective of nationality and religion.

     

    The work and influence of immigrant artists are as important today as it was a century ago when the Jewish émigrés including the Whitechapel Boys, and often overlooked the Whitechapel Girls, made their mark on British Modernism. The first home to so many of the immigrants then was Whitechapel and the East End of London where Ben Uri was founded in 1915, and little has changed since as so many new communities find a home, albeit cramped and impoverished, in the same areas.

     

    This twenty year focus is the genesis of the Ben Uri Research Unit for the study and recording of the Jewish and immigrant contribution to British visual culture since 1900.

  • SEARCH THE COLLECTION

    You can search and view the Pre-eminent and Core online and search by artist surname, country of origin, decade of birth or death, émigré, gender, object type, materials, techniques and key word tags.

     

    View and search the collection on benuricollection.org.uk

     
  • Some Highlights of the collection

  • OTHER WAYS TO ACCESS THE COLLECTION

    The Collections are now accessible, not just on our own website, but also extensively on the online platforms of Art UKGoogle Arts and CultureArtsy online galleryEuropeana archive, and extensively on Social Media sites including InstagramFacebook and Pinterest. In total, there are some 10,000 different representations of works from our collection available across the internet which are designed to link back to this virtual museum.

     
    You may also see works from the collection in one of Ben Uri’s many touring exhibitions and our extensive loan programme to other museum exhibitions. You can find out more on our Exhibitions page on our Ben Uri Collections site.

  • WHY DO WE HAVE OTHER WAYS OF ACCESSING THE COLLECTION?

    This expansive virtual museum and our wide engagement in sharing our collection across some 20 digital platforms is Ben Uri’s response to a changed and ever-changing local and global world around us. The future is Digital and this virtual museum is our long-term commitment to wide and diverse engagement about our collections and their meaning and impact on society. 

     

    Ben Uri actively, and thankfully unsuccessfully, searched for a new centrally located building of appropriate size since reopening in 2002. Finding an affordable site in the right location proved an impossible task, as the Trustees were acutely aware that acquiring a site in the wrong location was fatal. Between 2016 and 2017 we negotiated a collecting, exhibiting and academic partnership with a synergistic university to maximise and enhance the Ben Uri museum strengths, but ultimately it was not to be. The Board undertook a further extensive options analysis and published our 2019 Sustainability and Public Benefit Strategic Plan in October 2018 which addressed the future over many decades ahead rather than the standard 10-year plan which is the norm. 

     

    Pivotal to the many enlightened changes to traditional long-standing museum practices embodied in the strategy is this commitment to addressing tomorrow's challenges today rather than today's challenges tomorrow.

  • Thank you

    On behalf of you, our public, everyone at Ben Uri offers a huge Thank You to all those who have made our long list of important acquisitions since 2002 possible as they have transformed the quality and width of our collection. We pay special tribute to Art FundThe National Lottery Heritage FundACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and those philanthropists who share our belief in building a world-class collection that represents the focus of the Ben Uri Research Unit — illustrating the Jewish and immigrant contribution to British visual arts since 1900.

     

    Please check out, join and enjoy the benefits of free entry to over 200 museums and 50% off admission to feature exhibitions through their National Art Card. Discover more about the invaluable help Art Fund provides, as a registered charity, to museums like Ben Uri in acquiring great works that enhance our collections for you to enjoy. Equally, please also check out how every lottery ticket you buy helps museums like Ben Uri, and the wider social infrastructure of our society, at heritagefund.org.uk.