The Whitechapel Gallery, founded 1901, was one of the first publicly-funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London. The Gallery has a strong track record for education and outreach projects, now focused on the 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.
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 there are plans for a further extension.
Whitechapel's heart is Whitechapel Road itself, named for a small chapel of ease dedicated to St. Mary: its earliest known rector was Hugh de Fulbourne in 1329.
In 1680 the Rector of Whitechapel, the Rev. Ralph Davenant, of the parish of St. Mary Matfellon bequeathed a legacy for the education of forty boys and thirty girls of the parish - the Davenant Centre is still in existence although the Davenant Foundation School moved from Whitechapel to Loughton in 1966.
Whitechapel Rd. itself was not particularly squalid through most of this period—it was the warren of small dark streets branching from it that contained the greatest suffering, filth and danger, especially Dorset St. (now a private alley), Thrawl St., Berners St. (renamed Henriques St.), Wentworth St. and others.
The WhitechapelGallery, founded 1901, was one of the first publicly-funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London.
In the later 1960s and through the 1970s, the critical importance of the WhitechapelGallery 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 WhitechapelGallery had a major refurbishment in 1986 and there are plans for a further extension.
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