Whitechapel Gallery  

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The Whitechapel Gallery, founded 1901, was one of the first publicly-funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London. Located on Whitechapel High Street, Tower Hamlets, the Gallery has a strong track record for education and outreach projects, now focused on the Whitechapel area's Asian population. It exhibits the work of contemporary artists, as well as organizing retrospective exhibitions and shows that are of interest to the local community.

The Gallery exhibited Pablo Picasso's 'Guernica' in 1938 as part of a touring exhibition organised by Roland Penrose to protest the Spanish Civil War. For the history of post-war British art, the most important exhibition to have been held at the Whitechapel Gallery was This is Tomorrow in 1956. Initiated by members of the Independent Group, the exhibition brought Pop Art to the general public as well as introducing some of the artists, concepts, designers and photographers that would define the Swinging Sixties.

Throughout its history, the Whitechapel Gallery had a series of open exhibitions that were a strong feature for the area's artist community, but by the early 1990s these open shows became less relevant as emerging artists moved to other areas.

In the later 1960s and through the 1970s, the critical importance of the Whitechapel Gallery was displaced by newer venues such as the Hayward Gallery, but in the 1980s the Gallery enjoyed a resurgence under the Directorship of Nicholas Serota. The Whitechapel Gallery had a major refurbishment in 1986 and as of 2007 is undergoing more development work to incorporate the former library building next door, vacated when Whitechapel Idea Store opened. During this work the cinema space is being used as 'Whitechapel Laboratory' with access from the rear via Angel Alley, to the left of the usual entrance.


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