The Zabludowicz Collection, an outstanding private museum overseen by collectors Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, has announced the permanent closure of its widely attended London gallery. The decision marks the conclusion of a noteworthy 16-year chapter during which the museum played host to impactful exhibitions featuring emerging artists on the ascent.
In an official statement released on Friday and published on their website, Anita and Poju conveyed the rationale behind the closure:
“When we set up a project space for the Zabludowicz Collection over 15 years ago, our goal was to create a supportive environment for artists, to share our collection as widely as possible, and to provide a free, diverse programme for the benefit of the public. This has included a host of free exhibitions, commissions, and professional development programmes for artists and curators, complemented by a broad spectrum of events, from curator tours and panel discussions to live performances and family workshops.
In recent years, institutional programming has shifted to become more inclusive of artists in the early stages of their careers and we are so pleased to see more opportunities and spaces available. This change has prompted us to reflect on the focus of the Zabludowicz Collection and our aim to provide a platform for artists. As we look to expand access to the Collection, we have made the difficult decision to close the project space at 176 Prince of Wales Road, which very sadly means the team will be significantly reduced in size. We will close to the public following our current exhibitions on 17 December 2023.
We are immensely proud of what the team at 176 Prince of Wales Road has achieved during this time, and it has been a privilege to present so many brilliant artists in the space, from Rina Banerjee’s specially commissioned installation in our inaugural 2007 exhibition An Archaeology, to Matt Copson’s laser opera Age of Coming in All Crescendo, No Reward, our final exhibition. Creating opportunities for artists and curators to be ambitious and take risks has always been, and continues to be, important to us.
The Zabludowicz Collection will now concentrate on increasing artwork loans to institutions and extending our digital presence and offer. We look forward to developing new partnerships with institutions and independent curators, as well as continuing to build upon our commissions, professional development opportunities and residencies for artists.
While the museum maintains additional spaces, including the mentioned project venue in New York and a permanent facility on the Finnish island of Sarvisalo, the London establishment remains the most prominent and expansive of the collection’s endeavours. Providing insight into the strategic shift, the Zabludowicz Collection stated that the closure is part of a broader initiative to concentrate on lending out artworks owned by the Zabludowiczes.
Over the years, the museum garnered acclaim for hosting large-scale exhibitions that often incorporated cutting-edge technologies into the artworks. Noteworthy artists such as Lu Yang, Shana Moulton, Jon Rafman, Haroon Mirza, Lizzie Fitch, Ryan Trecartin, Donna Huanca, Rachel Maclean, Trisha Baga, and Josh Smith showcased their talents at the London venue. The museum also curated a survey of Erica Beckman’s video art. Due to the exceptional programme at the Zabludowicz Collection, the couple have been recognised by The Artlyst Alt Power 100 list for over a decade.
Despite its positive reputation for championing avant-garde art, the museum faced challenges over the past decade due to protests surrounding Poju Zabludowicz’s associations with Israel, allegations (many untrue) and controversies emerged, leading to a group of artists forming Boycott Divest Zabludowicz in 2014. The protests intensified in 2021, with some artists choosing to undermine works held by the Zabludowiczes amid concerns related to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Addressing the controversy publicly for the first time, the Zabludowiczes expressed support for a Two-State Solution in 2021, asserting their commitment to the rights of both Palestinians and Israelis to coexist peacefully. However, despite their statements, protests persisted, culminating in artists boycotting Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in December 2022, where Poju Zabludowicz had held a position on the board.
Amidst ongoing protests, the Zabludowicz Collection emphasised that the closure of its London space is unrelated to any boycott or demonstrations or the current war with Hamas in Gaza. A spokesperson clarified, stating, “The closure has no connection to any boycott or protests” and is intended “to expand access to the Collection.” The museum looks forward to forging new partnerships with institutions and independent curators and continuing its support for artists through commissions, professional development opportunities, and residencies.
Losing a core experimental facility is a very sad day for the London art community.
The final exhibition at the London venue, exploring the “formation and re-formation of subjecthood and objecthood,” is scheduled to conclude on December 17.
Top Photo: Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2022. Photo: David Bebber.