Call for papers – ‘The V&A and its Jewish Heritage: Objects & Stories’

February 5, 2024

Jewish heritage – as manifest through collectors, objects and stories – has played a significant role in the development of the V&A’s collections. As well as a significant collection of Judaica (of which the V&A has one of the earliest major collections in a public museum), Jewish people and Jewish culture have been part of the V&A’s history since the mid-19th century.

Research instigated by the curators of The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation into Jewish heritage, such as the successful object trail Concealed Histories (2019 – 20), has highlighted the provenance stories behind objects forcibly taken from Jewish collectors by the Nazis. More recently, partnering with the AHRC-funded project at Oxford University ‘Jewish Country Houses – Objects, Networks, People’, we explored some of the earliest collectors, dealers and donors that were integral to the development of the museum’s collections in the 19th century, such as Ralph Bernal, Nellie Ionides, Siegfried Bing and Marion Spielmann.

The V&A and Jewish Heritage: Objects & Stories
Symposium: 26 November 2024

We hope this symposium will consolidate this past research, and act as a catalyst for new insights as we seek to explore the diversity and breadth of Jewish contributions to the V&A collection – in its entirety – reflecting 5000 years of human creativity with a global reach.

Two white figures on a blue background. Set in a gold frame
Limoges painted enamel plaque, about 1660. Purchased from the Ralph Bernal Collection. Museum no. 2049:1, 2-1855 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
A plain brown trunk, with locks
Fabric-covered moulded plywood trunk used by Michael Maybaum (1929 – 1985) for his ‘Kindertransport’ journey to England to escape Nazi Germany in January 1939. Museum no. B.17-2016 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

We invite submissions of 20-minute papers that take as their central focus a single object or group of objects from anywhere within the collections of the V&A and its family of museums.

Using these object case-studies as a prism, papers might explore the activities of a Jewish collector, donor or dealer; stories of Jewish migration and mobility, as revealed by provenance; the evidence of historic Jewish communities in Britain, Europe and from around the world; the interaction of Jewish scholars and visitors with the museum collections; or any other meaningful link to the collection.

Depending on the depth, breadth and quality of paper proposals received, the symposium may extend into a second day (27 November 2024).

The symposium is convened at the V&A by Alice Minter (Senior Curator, Gilbert Collection), Dr Simon Spier (Curator, Ceramics and Glass, 1600 – 1800) and Dr Oliver Cox (Head of Academic Partnerships).

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, along with a short biography of no more than 100 words to

Deadline for submissions is 16 February 2024.


Join today and enjoy unlimited free entry to all V&A exhibitions, Members-only previews and more

Find out more


Find inspiration in our incredible range of exclusive gifts, jewellery, books, fashion, prints & posters and much more...

Find out more