Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Museums, Public Buildings and Galleries - Whitechapel Gallery

Permanent Picture Gallery for Whitechapel

Building an Art Centre in Poor Quarters under a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners

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The work of building the art gallery in Whitechapel is proceeding apace. It is just a couple of months ago since Viscount Peel laid the foundation stone, and the walls of what promises to be a unique institution are beginning to assert themselves as a feature of the Whitechapel road. The picture gallery in being erected on the west side of the Public Library. Mr. Harrison Townsend has prepared a design to harmonise with the pretty library building.
    The movement is an old one in Whitechapel. Even since Canon Barnett started the now famous Whitechapel Picture Exhibitions it has been his dream to see a permanent Art Gallery established. The exhibitions which are now held annually in the Board Schools adjoining Toynbee Hall can only remain open for a period of three weeks about East time. The great success of these annual exhibitions points to the success of the permanent gallery.
    The new gallery is to be governed under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners. This scheme vests the management in seventeen trustees, comprising thirteen representative trustees and four co-opted members. Three of the Trustees are to be elected by the London Parochial Charities, three by the Library Commissioners for Whitechapel, two by the Governing body of Toynbee Hall, and one each by the Technical Education Board, the Drapers' Company, Commissioners of Sir John Cass's Foundation, the Department of Science and Art, and the President of the Royal Academy. Each member will be expected to serve a term of four years. The first co-opted members are Mrs. H. O. Barnett, Mr. H.L.W.Lawson, L.C.C., Mr. W.Blyth, and Mr. E. Speyer. Under the scheme it is provided that the Gallery shall be used for free loan exhibitions of high-class modern pictures which have been exhibition at one of the chief London or foreign exhibitions; free exhibitions of objects from museums illustrating periods in history or forms of industry and art; free exhibitions of work done by school children of the people resident in the neighbourhood of the gallery; and free exhibitions of works of art and industry.
    The sum of 5000 has been given towards the cost of the building by Mr. Passmore Edwards, and the City Parochial Charities Trustees provide an endowment of 500 a year. . . . .
    We are enabled to reproduce the accompanying sketch of the art gallery by the courtesy of the editor of the Toynbee Record and Mr. Harrison Townsend, the architect. It is the work of Mr. Joseph Pennell.

Municipal Journal and London, February 9, 1899