The Mead Gallery was formally opened by Sir William Rees Mogg in May 1986. It was named to honour Phil Mead, a Coventry businessman who worked to develop support for the University and for Warwick Arts Centre.
Designed by Renton Howard Wood Levine, it allowed Warwick Arts Centre to add the contemporary visual arts to its portfolio. It is said that the design of the Mead Gallery was inspired by an American gallery, right down to the white carpet which covered its walls at the start. It is a large, L shaped space and presents three white cubes, each with refracted natural light from the scooped windows in the roof.
The Mead Gallery has a floor area of 605 square metres (6458 square feet). The three galleries are each approximately 13 metres square and can be divided into suites of one, two or three galleries. The space is further subdivided as necessary by internal structures, built as required. The height to the central, wood faced ceiling is 5.33 metres. The height of the hanging area is 4.11 metres.
The focus of the programme of temporary exhibitions is contemporary and modern art, the ideas of which may be contextualised or extended by much older work. Drawing on the context of the University, the programme seeks to look at works in depth and to explore their significance. A varied programme of events including symposia, designed to offer a range of access to the works on display, complements each exhibition.