Jewish Museum London Announces Withdrawal from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation and Changes to the Museum’s Leadership

Image of Museum entrance  @jewishmuseumLDN

  • Jewish Museum London announces withdrawal from Arts Council England’s 2018-22 National Portfolio
  • Chief Executive and Director of eight years, Abigail Morris, steps down ahead of change in direction

[11 February, 2020; London] Jewish Museum London announces its withdrawal from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation to review its business model and plan for a new direction.

Jewish Museum London joined the National Portfolio in 2017, receiving £880,000 from 2018-22 (£220,000 per year). Withdrawal from the National Portfolio will provide the Museum with the opportunity to explore a new, sustainable business model without the funding requirements set out by the portfolio.

The same level of investment will be received from the Arts Council along with an additional £100,000. Extensive support will also come from the Arts Council and The National Lottery Heritage Fund while the Museum takes the time to review its model and organisational structure over the next two months. This is an opportunity to plan for the future and ensure the Museum is able to continue its important mission to combat antisemitism through exhibitions, events and education.

The withdrawal follows the decision by the Museum’s Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abigail Morris to step down. Abigail joined the Museum in 2012 and has led a highly successful programme of exhibitions, events and an award-winning learning programme that has enhanced the profile of the Museum, across national and international audiences and within the Jewish community.

Under her leadership the highly acclaimed and wide-ranging exhibitions have included the trailblazing and award winning, ‘Jews, Money, Myth’,  the highly popular, ‘Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait’, family favourites such as the Judith Kerr retrospective and notable art exhibitions, including RB Kitaj and Abram Games – the latter chosen as one of The Guardian’s Exhibitions of the Year.

In collaboration with the Arts Council, the Jewish Museum is currently working to recruit an interim CEO. Abi Shapiro, the Museum’s Chief Operating Officer and Sam Clifford, Director of Development will step up as interim Co-directors until the new CEO is appointed.

Abigail Morris said, “It has been a dream to head up the Jewish Museum and to work with so many talented and supportive people. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together over the last eight years. We have transformed the Museum and have become recognised for our outstanding, award-winning exhibitions and education programmes. In turn, not only have our visitor numbers rocketed, we have brought in new, younger and more diverse audiences, many of whom had no previous contact with Jewish life. I wish the Museum continued success as it plans the next stage of its journey.”

Lord Young, Chairman of the Jewish Museum London, said:

“Under Abigail’s stewardship, our museum has had many big successes. Her creative energy and infectious determination ensured we were able to punch well above our weight and gain a world-wide reputation for our thought-provoking exhibitions and educational programme.

“We are grateful to Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for their ongoing support. We are committed to working closely with the Arts Council and taking the necessary steps to ensure we fulfil the Jewish Museum London’s mission to combat antisemitism through exhibitions, events and education.”

Joyce Wilson, London Area Director, Arts Council England, said:

“We have agreed to the request from the Jewish Museum London to leave the National Portfolio. We will continue to fund the organisation at the same level of investment while it takes time to review its business model. We are also awarding additional funding to support planning for the museum’s future and the care and preservation of its nationally outstanding collection.

“We have agreed this exceptional course of action because of the organisation’s strategic significance nationally and its important work with the museum sector, local people and the wider Jewish community.”

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“The Jewish Museum London and its collection is a significant part of our nation’s heritage and we were pleased to support its redevelopment, completed in 2010, thanks to National Lottery funding. Together with Arts Council England we have been working closely with the Jewish Museum as it addresses its future direction, including the care and preservation of this nationally outstanding collection, which tells such an important story and which is so significant to the Jewish community and our national heritage.”

For further information or images please contact:
Josephine Noti
[email protected] 
+44 (0) 20 7204 7356


About Jewish Museum London

Our mission at the Jewish Museum London is to surprise, delight and engage all people, irrespective of background and faith, in the history, identity and culture of Jews in Britain. Our exhibitions, events and learning programmes encourage a sense of discovery and aim to provoke questions, challenge prejudice, and encourage understanding.