LONDON.- The Whitechapel Gallery unveiled today its ambitious expansion following a £13.5 million capital campaign, due to open to the public in April 2009. 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 Gallerys historic archive, and an Education and Research Tower including study and creative studios. These beautiful 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 Picassos 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 Gallerys 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.
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 exciting expansion enables the Whitechapel Gallery to open all year round so there will always be something free to see. The Gallery will become a major cultural resource and a destination for the arts.
Exhibition highlights for 2009/10 include: painter Elizabeth Peyton (summer 2009); the return of the East End Academy (summer 2009); Sophie Calle (autumn 2009); a major exhibition looking at photography from south Asia from the 1840s to the present day (winter 2010); changing displays from the British Council collection and from the Gallerys archives; and project gallery exhibitions by Julie Ault and Melanie Manchot.
The development of the Whitechapel Gallery is much needed: previously the Gallery had to close for up to 10 weeks each year to allow for exhibition installations. The Gallerys 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 development unifies two landmark buildings; the Whitehapel Gallery and the adjoining Passmore Edwards Library. The project has enabled the restoration and preservation of an historically and culturally important building, keeping it open to the public. It also makes an important contribution to the regeneration of east London.
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 Whitechapels own funds.