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25th January 2018

Founded personally by King George III in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) was established to improve the professional status of artists, and to create a gallery space that held high standards.

Before arriving in its current home – the grandiose private Palladian mansion of Burlington House – the RA was set up in Pall Mall, then the old and new Somerset House, followed by a wing of the National Gallery. Exactly 100 years after its foundation, the RA finally became established in Burlington House. Owned by the British government but also one of the earliest and largest private residences built on Piccadilly, Burlington House provides an impressive welcome to the RA.

Over the years, the education part of the RA has turned out some of the UK’s most notable artists, including William Blake and the Turner Prize nominee, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Exhibitions rated among the best in the world have been held at the RA, from The Real Van Gogh to David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture.

Current and upcoming exhibitions at the RA include:

  • Charles I: King and Collector. This exhibition includes the legendary art collection of Charles I, bringing together a collection of his treasures for the first time since the 17th century. Until 15 April 2018.
  • Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE. Visual artist Tacita Dean explores the theme of landscapes in this exhibition, which roves from natural found objects and a series of cloudscapes in chalk on slate, to a new experimental 35mm film called ‘Antigone’. 19 May to 12 August 2018.
  • Summer Exhibition 2018. The RA’s legendary annual Summer Exhibition is bigger and better for the RA’s 250th year this summer, with Grayson Perry CBE RA chairing the show. 12 June to 19 August 2018
  • The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition. This extra celebration during this year’s Summer Exhibition tells the story of 250 years of the Summer Exhibition. 12 June to 19 August 2018
  • Renzo Piano. A show about an architect with iconic buildings across the world, the Renzo Piano exhibition looks at 50 years of his pioneering work, from the Shard to the Pompidou Centre in Paris. 15 September 2018 to 20 January 2019
  • Oceania. Captain James Cook set sail on a voyage of discovery in 1768, the same year the RA was founded. This exhibition celebrates the art of the Oceania region, from the historic to the contemporary. 29 September to 10 December 2018
  • Klimt / Schiele. Marking the centenary of the deaths of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, this exhibition features rare and fragile drawings by both artists, in collaboration with the Albertina Museum in Vienna. 4 November 2018 to 3 February 2019.

There’s always something new to discover at the RA, from world-class exhibitions to unassuming corners of Burlington House for quiet reflection. The RA shop and The Keeper’s House – a bar, lounge and secret garden – are relatively unknown spots in London that make you feel like a local too.

Visitors of The Athenaeum can take a ten-minute stroll along Piccadilly to reach the RA, which is open Monday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm, plus a late opening until 10pm on Fridays.

Royal Academy

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