Royal Academy of Arts
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Discover a sublime collection of fine arts and exciting contemporary talent in the annual Summer Exhibition at London's Royal Academy of Arts, led by artists and architects.
In 1768, a group of 38 artists and architects founded the Royal Academy of Arts. For over 250 years since, the institution has championed the practice, appreciation and understanding of art. Today, free displays include highlights from the resident collection, events feature leading artists and exhibitions span everything from individual careers to epoch-making artistic movements.
The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition is an annual highlight. Held every year since 1769, including during both World Wars, it’s the world’s oldest open submission exhibition. Over 1,000 works of art fill the galleries, submitted by celebrities, established artists and the public. The selection is always surprising, with the judges having rejected works from Banksy, Édouard Manet and John Constable in the past.
The Summer Exhibition is coordinated by a Royal Academician – an artist or architect elected for their outstanding work. Year-round, visitors can dine surrounded by academicians' murals in the Royal Academy Café, or browse iconic posters from the archives in the Poster Bar. Academicians have also contributed to the institution’s collection – awarded Designated status for its international significance – by donating Diploma Works on election.
The Royal Academy has drawn some notable visitors over the years: Mussolini, who attended an Italian Art exhibition in 1930 to further fascism, and a group of suffragettes, who slashed a painting by John Singer Sargent with a meat cleaver in political protest. Most visitors today are drawn for the pure enjoyment of art, food, drink and shopping.
Why you should go
Home to a stunning collection of international significance
Murals by Royal Academy artists in the café
An annual Summer Exhibition displaying thousands of contemporary works