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Whitechapel Gallery Unveiled its Ambitious Expansion Following a 13.5 Million Capital Campaign
Cross Section of Whitechapel Gallery expansion.
LONDON.-The Whitechapel Gallery unveiled its ambitious expansion following a £13.5 million capital campaign. The Heritage Lottery Fund supported project has transformed the former library building next to the Gallery, increasing gallery space by 78%. Designed by leading Belgian architects Robbrecht en Daem (with London practice Witherford Watson Mann Architects), the expanded Whitechapel Gallery provides one of the most exciting new cultural buildings in Europe.

Included in the expanded building are new galleries dedicated to presenting collections and new commissions; a permanent gallery and research room for the Whitechapel Gallery’s historic archive, and an Education and Research Tower including study and creative studios. These elegant spaces for art have been designed by the architects in collaboration with leading artist Rachel Whiteread CBE.

The original exhibition spaces in the Whitechapel Gallery have been beautifully renovated and will be the site for a landmark exhibition of German sculptor Isa Genzken, the first major retrospective of her work, until 21 June 2009.

The Bloomberg Commission gives a new platform for an annual art commission. It launches with a site specific artwork by Goshka Macuga, who has been inspired by Picasso’s Guernica coming to the Whitechapel Gallery in 1939 on its first and only visit to the UK.

The Whitechapel Gallery will provide unprecedented public access to important art collections. The inaugural display of rarely seen works from the British Council collection is supported by Hiscox.

The Whitechapel Gallery’s 100 year old archive is brought to life with displays of rare documents and artists’ letters. The first exhibition, The Whitechapel Boys, looks at the moment when artists David Bomberg, Mark Gertler and Isaac Rosenberg contributed to forming the Vorticist movement in the former Whitechapel Library.

Films by Ursula Mayer are on display in the Zilkha Auditorium. Two new project galleries show the work of Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas and the primary schools education project Archive Adventures.

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, said, ‘This century old institution is the artists’ gallery for everyone. The expansion enables us to be open all year round so there will always be something free to see. The Whitechapel Gallery will become a major cultural resource and a destination for the arts.’

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said, ‘The Whitechapel is a revelation! One of the capital's most vibrant galleries, it works on so many levels by bringing together an historic building, an amazing collection of contemporary art and an important century-old archive, all right in the beating heart of the East End. Seeing this cultural gem open again to the public makes me want to shout with joy - I can't tell you how proud I am that the Heritage Lottery Fund has played a role in supporting this visionary project.’

Moira Sinclair, Executive Director of Arts Council England, London said: 'The Whitechapel Gallery is one of London's artistic gems - a pivotal cultural institution, which has had so much influence on generations of artists. The Arts Council first supported the Gallery in 1947, and we are delighted to still be a major partner today as it relaunches for the 21st century. This renovation will help it to continue its great work into the future - with new facilities, reinvigorated spaces and improved access. Our aims are intertwined: helping more people experience great art. Like many others, we look forward to the Whitechapel Gallery reopening.'

Development was much needed: previously the Gallery had to close for up to 10 weeks each year to allow for exhibition installations. The Gallery’s former Education Studio could not accommodate full class sizes and the overwhelming number of schools wishing to use its facilities. Previously there was limited access for disabled people to the Gallery and there was no wheelchair access to the former library.

The Gallery has already raised £13 million towards its £13.5 million capital campaign target. This includes Heritage Lottery Fund grants totalling £3,722,200; London Borough of Tower Hamlets grant of £1,300,000; Arts Council England grant of £1,050,000; European Regional Development grant of £500,000; London Development Agency grant of £350,000; £2,749,485 raised from charitable trusts and individual donors; and £2.5million from an auction of artworks donated by artists in 2006. The capital monies raised to date come from a wide range of public and private sources, represented by 57% public funding, 15% from commercial galleries, 14% from charitable trusts, 12% from individual donors and the remainder from the Whitechapel’s own funds.

The Whitechapel Gallery was founded in 1901 to bring great art to the people of east London. The Gallery’s history is a history of firsts: in 1939 Picasso’s masterpiece, Guernica was displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery on its first and only visit to Britain; in 1958 the Gallery presented the first major show in Britain of seminal American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock; and in 1970 and 1971 the first shows of David Hockney, Gilbert & George and Richard Long were staged to great acclaim. Exhibitions in the 1980s and 90s included Donald Judd, Cy Twombly. Cindy Sherman and Lucian Freud. From 2000, the Gallery has shown Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Liam Gillick, Nan Goldin, Cristina Iglesias, Paul McCarthy, Mark Wallinger and Franz West. The Gallery is internationally renowned for its exhibitions of modern and contemporary art and its pioneering education and public events programmes. The Whitechapel plays a unique role in the capital’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of east London as a leading contemporary art quarter.



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