Friday 30 April 2021

Whitechapel Gallery - What's on: exhibitions and events for a surreal summer


It's a bank holiday weekend, which means there's even more time to engage with art!

Join us online for talks and artists films as part of the thematic season of events, Ways of Knowing: Water/Fluidity, all inspired by the artist Eileen Agar's interest in marine life.

Then hear from artists, musicians and filmmakers in our upcoming Virtual Studio Visits, hosted by our youth collective, Duchamp & Sons. 

Ahead of the Gallery's reopening on 19 May, be sure to pre-book your tickets to immerse yourself in a surreal summer of art and get in touch should you have any questions about our health & safety measures. 

Summer 2021 exhibitions

Summer 2021 exhibitions
Opening 19 May

Whether dancing on the rooftops in Paris, sharing ideas with Pablo Picasso, or gathering starfish on the beaches of Cornwall, Eileen Agar transformed the everyday into the extraordinary. This summer encounter the largest retrospective of the spirited artist's work in Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy.

Then meander through time in our Archive show, Phantoms of Surrealism; delight in Sol Calero's dizzying display from the Hiscox Collection; hear from young activists in Ayo Akingbade's A Glittering City; and immerse yourself within Nalini Malani's 9-channel Animation Chamber. 

Pre-book Now

Ways of Knowing: Water / Fluidity
From the Islands to the Thames
Thu 6 May, 7pm | £5 suggested donation

Two new feature-length essay films – Joshua Bonnetta‘s The Two Sights and Huw Wahl‘s The Republics – engage with the waterlands of the Outer Hebrides. Here both artists will be joined by poet Stephen Watts to discuss place, poetry, sound and storytelling.

Find out more.
Important Books: Stanley Schtinter
May 2021 – May 2022 | Free

Launching next Monday and updated weekly over a year, Important Books presents the first comprehensive sonic history of the manifesto in art and politics, crucially read aloud by children – those who will shape the artistic, social and political realms in years to come.

Find out more

From our Education team
Virtual Studio Visits
5–26 May 2021 | Free

Virtual Studio Visits is a programme curated by Whitechapel Gallery’s youth collective, Duchamp & Sons, inviting artists across the globe to share their creative workspaces and practices. 

Join them next week on 5 May to meet musician Nabihah Iqbal and stay tuned for upcoming visits with artists Lucy Orta and Rory Pilgrim

Find out more
You Will Hear Us!

To coincide with the ongoing exhibition, Nalini Malani: Can You Hear Me?, we worked with artist Sam Ayre to deliver a digital GIF-making workshop with students at local Newham primary schools.

Their final project, You Will Hear Us!, reflects on themes of change, interconnection, language and drawing, inspired by Malani's interest in animation and activism. 

Find out more

Become a Member
Join our community of art lovers and artists.

See exhibitions first, gain exclusive access to events, and pay less when treating yourself to books, food and artist limited editions.  By becoming a member you will also support the Gallery’s continued effort to be a place for free thinking, creativity and learning for all.

Tuck into Townsend
Ahead of our grand reopening, Townsend are busily preparing a selection of fresh produce boxes to be delivered to your door. 

Opt for one of their seasonal fruit and vegetable parcels or try this dairy box direct from the Cackleberry Farm in the Cotswolds. 

Order now. 

British Museum - New | 360° Arctic exhibition tour

Arctic 360 image

Explore the Arctic

360° exhibition tour

The five-star show might be over, but it lives on virtually.

Step into the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate and view the extraordinary objects up close. With interactive features, you’ll enjoy a rich and immersive experience – uncovering the incredible story of Arctic Peoples throughout history. 

Take the tour

Lead supporter

Citi logo

Supported by

Julie and Stephen Fitzgerald

AKO foundation logo
The exhibition catalogue open showing text and an image of a child's snowsuit.

Exhibition book

Special online price

Named one of The Times’ Best Art Books of the Year 2020, Arctic: culture and climate further brings the exhibition and its objects to life. Available for just £20.

Shop now
Alabaster sculpture showing the murder of Thomas Becket.

Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint

Opening 20 May

Marking the 850th anniversary of Becket’s murder in Canterbury Cathedral, this exhibition explores the events that led to his violent death and the immense political fallout that followed.  

Book now

Supported by

The Hintze Family Charitable Foundation
The Ruddock Foundation for the Arts
Jack Ryan and Zemen Paulos

A black and white photograph of a bust of the emperor Nerohe

Nero: the man behind the myth

Opening 27 May

Nero is notorious for his cruelty and debauchery – but is it all a myth? Uncover the truth about one of Rome’s most infamous emperors in this revelatory show.

Book now

Supported by bp

Support the Museum

During these challenging times, your support is more important than ever. If you can, please donate today.

Donate today

Somerset House - Opening soon: London Design Biennale

 London Design Biennale 2021 campaign artwork, showing a tree against a black background. Placed randomly on the branches of the tree are the words Csn we design a better world?

London Design Biennale 2021

How can design provide solutions to the major challenges of our time? London Design Biennale returns to Somerset House and this year the festival explores issues from the pandemic to climate change, equality to migration, all under the theme of ‘resonance’. 

Pavilions from across six continents come together to consider the ripple effect ground-breaking design can have on the way we live and the choices we make.

01 – 27 JUN


An artist's impression of Forest for Change. Hundreds of green, leafy trees are shown in the courtyard at Somerset House.


A magnificent landscape of 400 trees takes over our courtyard, offering you a journey of discovery and interaction, and an opportunity to reconsider attitudes of human dominance over nature. 

A digital graphic showing various artworks displayed on rectangles and facing diagonally, stacked one on top of another, in a blank space.


Immerse yourself in the best of international design with pavilions representing countries, territories, regions and cities across the world, including AntarcticaPolandthe African Diaspora and beyond.

A silhouette of a person stands in front of an antarctic landscape projected on to a white cube space.


An artist's impression of Guatemala's pavilion. It is a sketch of people interacting with a sculptural work of angular 3D shapes.


A photo representing Germany's pavilion, which shows a collection of colourful, disposable cutlery, neatly ordered in rows.


An artwork representing Hong Kong's submission. It is a grey digital work, with gradients of grey creating circular shapes and a divide that runs through the middle.


Imperial War Museums - Eat your heart out, Michelangelo



He said ‘Oh, you like drawing, do you?’ And I said ‘Yes, sir’… And he said ‘Right, you can work for us tomorrow’.
Myra Murden was still a teenager when she started working in the Cabinet War Rooms.

Born in Reigate, Surrey in 1924, she became a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in 1942, aged 18. She was a Leading Aircraftwoman during the Second World War.
Many officers and administrative personnel worked underground in the War Rooms, such as typists, stenographers, telephonists, and secretaries.

Myra recalls, “there were these tiny little cubby-hole places and I remember sitting and doing short-hand and typing there.”

She loved to draw and was often drawing and doodling between tasks. Until one night she was caught drawing a rose.

“This civilian went by and he said ‘Oh, you like drawing, do you?’ And I said ‘Yes, sir’… And he said ‘Right, you can work for us tomorrow’.
With that, Myra was sent through a trap door into a lower room to work for three draftsmen. In this room, the four of them worked on huge maps, used in the Cabinet War Rooms.

“I did the labels and I suppose the grotty jobs, but that didn’t worry me…And these three men, they did all the important secret work on the maps.”

“There was one huge map in the morning...they would put little crosses and things across the Atlantic where U-boats or submarines or ships had been sunk. And it was my job to draw a little submarine and put a little English flag on, or a swastika, or a ship on its side…”

Experience the power of Churchill War Rooms from the comfort of your home with our new online tour. Join live as our experts talk you through this remarkable historical landmark - with a chance to ask questions at the end. 

New dates added. Book your place now.

The Map Room was the nerve centre of Britain’s war effort. The room was not left empty for six years, during the Second World War. It was the beating heart of the Cabinet War Rooms.

Every retreat and advance, every defeat and victory, was recorded in calm, unemotional and faithful detail within this inner sanctum.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a great lover of maps and could often be found in the Map Room, which had the most up-to-date information on the war. Major-General Hastings Ismay recalled, “my visits often coincided with those of a sturdy figure in a siren suit”.

The ‘Map Room boys’ were said to ooze glamour and success, but Myra’s job was far less glamorous. She worked even further underground, in the sub-basement, in rather grim and dusty conditions.

Myra would not have been allowed in the Map Room. In fact, only a select few had access to the room.

Yet, the smooth operation of the Map Room depended on contributions from many members of staff behind the scenes. 

Like many other people who worked in the Cabinet War Rooms during the Second World War, Myra had to keep her job a secret from her family and friends. It was not until many years later that she could tell anyone about her work which contributed towards the outcome of the Second World War.

The Map Room has been preserved to look almost exactly as it did when the lights were switched off on 16 August 1945. 

When you can visit Churchill War Rooms again, pay close attention to the maps, which remain the same as they did in the Second World War, down to the pin holes. 

If you look close enough, you might see Myra’s handiwork.
Whilst you wait for Churchill War Rooms to reopen, experience its history at home using our audio-visual guide supported by Bloomberg Connects.

Discover the life and legacy of Winston Churchill with IWM curator Nigel Steel, hear from those who worked in the War Rooms, and more. 

Download the free guide on the Bloomberg Connects app.