• Short history of performance I
  • Protest and Survive
  • Hockney PV

The Whitechapel Gallery Archive

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The Whitechapel Gallery's archives hold an extensive range of material produced by the Gallery from the past 100 years. Included in the collection are publications, rare documents, artists' letters, photographs, graphic works, press records, exhibition plans and installations, recordings on tape and videos of artists, critics and curators.

The development of the Gallery has enabled the construction of the purpose-designed Foyle Reading Room and the dedicated Pat Matthews Gallery offering increased access to the Whitechapel Gallery Archive. 

View Foyle Reading Room opening times

Reading of the archive material is arranged by appointment with the Archivists.
To book a visit or if you have an enquiry, please email the
Archive Enquiry Form
to or
call +44 (0)20 7522 7888.
All past catalogues are available and can be consulted in the Foyle Reading Room, no appointment necessary.

The Whitechapel Gallery Archive contains:

Early Records
The pre-1947 records of the gallery, other than the trustees minutes and annual reports were collected as an artificial chronological series some time after 1947. The series has been grouped as follows: records of the establishment of the gallery, 1893 - 1901 (WAG/EAR/1), directors’ and secretaries’ correspondence (WAG/EAR/2), financial records (WAG/EAR/3) and exhibition records (WAG/EAR/4).

Directors Papers
Director’s Papers from 1947 - 1988, (WAG/DIR) are arranged chronologically by director and provide a strategic overview of the thinking behind exhibition planning, fund raising and identity.
This series contains the personal files of Whitechapel Directors Hugh Scrutton, 1947 – 1952, Bryan Robertson, 1952 – 1969, Mark Glazebrook 1969 – 1971, Jennie Stein 1971 – 1974, Jasia Reichardt 1974 – 1976 and Nicholas Serota 1976 – 1988.

Exhibition Files
Exhibition files have been maintained systematically and survive completely from 1947 – 1995 (WAG/EXH/2). They typically contain correspondence with artists, galleries and owners, files re. hanging, catalogue, transport, sponsorship, insurance and condition reports.

There are some series of photographs of exhibitions at the gallery before 1945, but the main series of photographic records (WAG/PHOT/1) begins in 1948. From that date systematic photographic records for each show survive; these normally include record photos of works, press photos, installation photos, building photos as well as photographs from private views and other Whitechapel events

Printed and Publicity Materials
The principal series of records are exhibition catalogues from 1882 (WAG/PUB/1) including the Director’s bound set (WAG/PUB/1/D); posters for exhibitions from 1956 (WAG/PUB/2); press cuttings maintained intermittently from 1897 and systematically from 1948 (WAG/PUB/4); and the guard books containing ephemera and printed publicity from each exhibition, maintained from 1949 (WAG/PUB/5).

Education Files
These are mainly individual artists’ projects with local schools and recent records of other education workshops and projects (WAG/EDU).

Audiovisual material
There are a significant number of video and audio records which have been partly catalogued. As the cataloguing is currently in progress we may not able to make the full volume of these records available to researchers.

Other Records
The Trustees series of records (WAG/TRU) include the minutes and correspondence of the Whitechapel Gallery Trustees, 1898 – 1976; the minutes and correspondence of the Whitechapel Art Gallery Foundation trustees, 1984 – present day; the series of annual reports and accounts, 1901 – 1954; and the Finance Committee minutes 1950 – 1971.

The Gallery Managers’ Records (WAG/GAL), 1898 – 1995 contain files on the management of the building as well as architects’ plan series for the original 1901 building and the Colquhoun-Miller rebuild of 1983. The recent development of the former Library building will be added to the main collection within 2009.

The Whitechapel Gallery Society records (WAG/SOC) run from 1947 – 1987.

Image credit 1: Carolee Schneemann, Meatjoy 2002, Short History of Performance I, Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery Archive.

Image credit 2: Thomas Hirschhorn, Bridge linking the Whitechapel Gallery Café to Freedom Press bookshop during Protest & Survive 2000, Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery Archive.

Image credit 3: David Hockney at the opening of his solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery 1970