When it comes to galleries and museums, there’s no better town to be in than London and since it’s now July then what better place to visit than the Royal Academy of Arts?  Set up by a personal Act of King George III back in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts has been throwing its doors open to the public for over 250 years now. Run as a charity, which is independent and led by prominent artists, its mission – first and foremost – is to promote the arts of design in Britain, through education and exhibition.  

Photo courtesy of the MBS Group

The Academy really comes to life in the summer, when it hosts the world-famous Summer Exhibition.  Held every year without fail since 1768, it’s a chance for locals and tourists alike to browse and buy – there are over 1,000 works in every medium on display!  There are paintings, prints, film, sculpture, photography – it really is tough competition but a fine way for emerging artists to break onto the scene. Here’s a short video, to give you an idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWHfwRyCqKg

As for the building itself, it is located in Burlington House, on fashionable Piccadilly Street in central London.  Its style is imposing – early 18th century style building and Palladian design (a classical style, emphasising proportion and symmetry, and made famous by the Venezian architect Palladio).  

 

Photo courtesy of the Royal Academy

Behind its stunning facade, it boasts an impressive library and archives (available for research purposes), and a permanent collection of fine art, including engravings, wall paintings and ceilings. It even owns a Michelangelo relief – Taddei Tondo – which was carved out of marble in Florence, between 1504-1506!  

Here’s a another wonderful video to give you an idea of how special this collection is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuegzLttsUk

Even better, many of the Royal Academy’s treasures from their historic collection went on display for the first time last year, free of charge.  Walk in the galleries and you’ll see works by Constable, Gainsborough and a copy of The Last Supper from the 16th century.

Photo courtesy of the Royal Academy

Furthermore, in 2018, using Heritage Lottery money (the RA is not privately funded) David Chipperfield Architects ‘upgraded’ the building, connecting it to its ‘unloved’ sister building in Burlington Gardens.  The result? The Academy now has its first-ever exhibition space dedicated permanently to architecture.

The now-expanded RA has more than 70% more public space and its students (there on free programmes) have dedicated space in which they can exhibit their work.  The buildings are linked by a concrete bridge…and there’s even a 250 seat lecture theatre and a purpose-built learning space mean even more visitors can be exposed to the world of art.  

And when you’re finished, the good news is that you’re just a short tube ride away from La Gaffe, where we invite you for lunch or dinner.  Either in our wine bar or restaurant, take the weight off your feet from all that walking in Piccadilly, and enjoy a light bite or full meal (we have a wide range of Italian dishes).  For more about our food and guest accommodation, take a look at https://www.lagaffe.co.uk/restaurant/