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.