The New York Times‘s Carol Vogel looks at the Whitechapel Gallery’s expansion in East London:
Ms. Blazwick said the expansion would allow the gallery to show public and private collections that “have been languishing in crates or have never before been seen by the public.” It will also continue to organize shows and commission new works.
“The Whitechapel is about presenting great art and working with a diverse community,” she said.
(More details of the expansion after the jump.)
The Whitechapel, founded “to bring great art to the people of East London,” and the adjacent Passmore Edwards Library were built by 19th-century philanthropists to provide education and culture to an area known for its overcrowded slums, as well as its breweries, foundries, slaughterhouses and, incidentally, the notorious Jack the Ripper murders. [ . . . ]
Just as Tate Modern invigorated the downtrodden Bankside, across the river, just opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral, the expanded Whitechapel is expected to attract some 300,000 visitors a year and generate jobs and commerce locally.
The makeover was desperately needed, Ms. Blazwick said. The added space will allow the gallery to remain open continuously, whereas before it had to close about 10 weeks a year when installing new art. Its educational space was too small to accommodate even an average-size school class, and the former library had no wheelchair access. [ . . . ]
Its inaugural programming will take into account this distinguished past. In January 1939 the Whitechapel exhibited Picasso’s “Guernica” on its first and only visit to Britain. Because the painting, which is in the Reina Sofía Art Center in Madrid, is now considered too fragile to travel, the gallery decided to borrow a tapestry that Picasso gave Parisian weavers permission to produce in the 1950s. It has been hanging since 1985 at the entrance to the Security Council Room at the United Nations in New York, a gift from the estate of Nelson A. Rockefeller.
Modern Art Showcase Expands, Hoping to Revitalize a London Area (New York Times)