This chapter focuses on the Whitechapel Art Gallery of a wider study–that of the philanthropic galleries which emerged in the later nineteenth century. These institutions were created by individuals who felt that the major national galleries and their municipal counterparts had not succeeded in what they believed should be their prime objective: that of bringing art to all the people, including the very poor, women and children. The exhibitions were only part of wider projects concerning education, housing, health and outdoor recreation. They capitalized on a number of factors coming together: the rising popularity of contemporary art, the development of socialist and welfarist ideas, and concerns about independent urban-popular cultures. The chapter argues that the origins of the Whitechapel Gallery lay in anxieties concerning the increasingly important concept of 'culture', a term which was just beginning to develop its modern usage: the shared attitudes, interests and values of a social group.