Royal Academy of Arts
- | 020 7300 8000
- | www.royalacademy.org.uk
- Reduced price entry to exhibitions with National Art Pass.
- View venue & entry details
Founded in 1768, this is the country's oldest society concerned solely with the fine arts.
As an independent institution it is primarily led by prestigious artists and architects. Among its founders were Sir Joshua Reynolds and Sir William Chambers, who were determined to achieve professional standing for British art and architecture. Through the Academy's history the prominence of its members has not diminished and past Royal Academicians include John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner, Lord Leighton and Stanley Spencer, while current members include Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, David Hockney, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.
The collection focuses on British art and artists and mainly ranges from the 18th century to the present day. Among the highlights are major works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, Alma-Tadema, Flaxman, Millais, Leighton, Waterhouse, Sargent, Spencer and Hockney. Some of the John Madejski Fine Rooms have recently been rehung with works from the permanent collection. They can be visited on special free tours. See website for details.
The Royal Academy of Art is based in Burlington House, a striking 17th-century mansion nestled in the heart of London's West End. The Royal Academy also owns a neighbouring building, 6 Burlington Gardens, which provides extra exhibition space, and there are plans to link the two buildings by 2018. There's a café and an interesting array of events and talks running in the evenings. The recently opened Keeper's House, tucked into a corner of the courtyard, provides a sophisticated restaurant, bar, lounge and secret garden to relax in.
The institution holds a series of major exhibitions throughout the year, including the annual Summer Exhibition, which has run every year since 1768. The show draws together a wide range of new and recent work by established, unknown and emerging artists and is a must-see event for contemporary art-lovers