In 2018, the Royal Academy of Arts celebrates its 250th birthday and, to commemorate this milestone occasion, the revered artistic establishment has undergone major redevelopment. Located just a short walk from The Chesterfield Mayfair, the new Royal Academy will open to the public on 19th May. The extensive redevelopment connects the original site of Burlington House with Burlington Gardens, forming a two-acre campus and marking an exciting new chapter in the Academy's illustrious history. The renovations mean plenty more space to showcase not only the Royal Academy's incredible collection of historic works of art, but also an increased opportunity to promote the work of Royal Academicians and artists at the Royal Academy Schools, as well as additional resources for the venue's esteemed temporary exhibitions.
Founded in 1768 by a collection of artists and architects, the Academy's first President was acclaimed painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds and the other founding members shared a goal of creating an independent organisation that would shine a light on 'the Arts of Design,' and provide recognition for the leading artists and architects of the day, formally known as 'Royal Academicians.' The institution also served as Britain's first art school and created its annual summer public exhibition, which still takes place today.
250 years later, the Royal Academy continues to be known as a hotspot for art and visual culture in London, and is celebrated for its industry leading temporary exhibitions. Previous star attractions such as Ai Weiwei, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse and Abstract Expressionism, have cemented the venue's reputation as an authority in the arts sector.
The Royal Academy Schools remain central to the Academy itself, and this privately funded initiative offers training to talented young artists free of charge. The schools are led by an eminent group of artists and architects and have been responsible for inspiring some of Britain's finest artists, including William Blake, J.M.W. Turner and John Constable.
To celebrate this important birthday and momentous redevelopment, the Royal Academy has planned a series of inaugural exhibitions. The new Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries will open on 19th May with Tacita Dean: LANDSCAPE, an ambitious and wide-ranging exploration of landscape by acclaimed visual artist Tacita Dean. Visit the new Royal Academy Collection Gallery to see The Making of an Arist: The Great Tradition, an exhibition that draws on the RA's fantastic collection, showcasing the likes of Michelangelo's 'Taddei Tondo' alongside a 16th century copy of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. Whilst admiring the Weston Bridge - the new point of connection between Burlington Gardens and Burlington House - pay a visit to the Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery, a space for work by Royal Academicians. The inaugural show here is a fascinating examination of gender in the history of the RA, put together by Bob and Roberta Smith and entitled Tips for a Good Life.
Located just a few minutes walk from the Royal Academy, The Chesterfield Mayfair is the ideal base for those looking to explore London's art scene.
Image Credits: Lead image © Royal Academy of Arts London. Collection Gallery in 2018 © Hayes Davidon. The Main Galleries during the Summer Exhibition of 1956 © Royal Academy of Arts London. Students in the Royal Academy Schools in 1953 © Royal Academy of Arts London. Tacita Dean Portrait © Fredrik Nilsen Studio. The Link Bridge viewed from the Schools Courtyard in 2018 © David Chipperfield Architects.