BANGLA: a new public artwork for Whitechapel

Bangla exhibition signage

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a new art installation at Idea Store Whitechapel - a collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery.

BANGLA is a bright and bold celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh installed in the facade of the borough's flagship library.


Initially planned as an exhibition in our entrance hall, the pandemic led the project's stakeholders to identify an open-air space to display the new artwork. Co-designed by Paraa: led by artist Ruhul Abdin and architect Sadiqul Islam Shehab.

The result - the word BANGLA constructed as a 3D illuminated steel structure clad in sari fabric.

This was informed by research in the collections of Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives by a group of more than twenty Citizen Researchers from the local British Bangladeshi community.

In addition to the sculptural artwork, the installation includes two large embroidered hangings showing archival fragments of the 1971 Liberation War, and its impact on the Bengali East End.


BANGLA visual lit externally

Pasted onto the disused escalator shaft in the overhanging glass facade, highlights from our collections are used in a new exhibition about the history of the independence struggle, the contribution of Tower Hamlets residents and the Language Movement in the East End.


BANGLA concept

Bangladesh 50 is part of Citizen UK, a collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery and local authority archives. Check out behind the scenes photos and videos of the project process.
You can view BANGLA at Idea Store Whitechapel every day. Lights come on at 4pm to midnight. Take your pictures with BANGLA and post it on the social and tag us! @LBTHArchives #BD50.