CALL FOR PAPERS - The V&A and its Jewish Heritage: Objects & Stories

Dr Tom Stammers and Dr Silvia Davoli, the JCH research team leading on our Collecting and Material Culture strand, have been working in partnership with the V&A to help convene a new symposium on The V&A and its Jewish Heritage: Objects & Stories.



We are pleased to issue a call for papers for a symposium taking place on 26 November 2024 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, on Jewish histories within the V&A’s collections. There is a possibility of extending to 27 November depending on demand. Jewish heritage – as manifest through actors, objects and stories – plays a hidden, yet significant role in the development of the V&A’s collections. Rather than restricting this dimension to a narrow consideration of Judaica (of which the V&A has one of the first major collections in a public museum), this symposium takes an expansive view of what constitutes the Jewish heritage to explore the ways in which Jews, and Jewish culture, has shaped the development of the V&A and its collections from the mid-19th century to the present day.

This symposium builds upon research instigated by the Gilbert Collection into Jewish heritage, such as the successful object trail Concealed Histories (2019-20) that highlighted the provenance stories behind objects that had been 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. We hope this symposium will consolidate this past research and act as a catalyst for new insights, as we seek to widen the scope and 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.

We invite submissions of 20-minute papers which 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. We intend this symposium to feed into a future publication in 2025.

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 16th February 2024.