Why You Need To Add The Royal Academy Of Arts To Your Summer Hit-List

Why You Need To Add The Royal Academy Of Arts To Your Summer Hit-List

Culture lovers have no doubt already paid several visits to the Royal Academy of Arts in the past, but now there’s a new excuse to book an exhibition – it’s just unveiled an enormous ten-year restoration project in honour of its 250th anniversary. Here are nine essential attractions to look forward to as RA celebrates throughout the summer and beyond…

The Revamp

Run by artists since 1768, the RA is celebrating 250 years by opening up like never before. Walking past the grand 18th-century façade of the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly over the last few years, there was no hint at all that a reconstruction was going on behind the scenes. The RA250 Project has been ten years in the making, and this week it throws open its doors to the public. At 8,813 square metres, the newly reconfigured cultural campus is 70% larger than when it first opened, which means there’s now space to host multiple exhibitions, as well as additional bars and restaurants. Sympathetic yet striking, the beautiful new look has more of a white-washed aesthetic, pulling the focus ever more onto the star attractions – the works of art. Today, visitors can lay their eyes on 230 works in the academy’s permanent collection, including the only marble sculpture by Michelangelo in the UK, the Taddei Tondo.

One of the main aims of its lead architect David Chipperfield RA (the man behind The Hepworth Wakefield and The Turner Gallery in Margate) was to make the museum a welcoming space. He’s taken the two individual historic sites – Burlington Gardens and Burlington House – and created a modern bridge and courtyard between them, as well as opening up two separate front doors. As he puts it, “I want everything we’ve done just to seem natural – as if the only thing we’ve done is to say, now you’re allowed here.”

The RA Schools

Britain’s longest-running art school has always been tucked away beneath the academy’s main galleries, but now, for the first time, visitors are able to access to the school via the Vaults, where they can wander and watch the academy’s 50 fine-art graduates at work. Down here, visitors will also learn how former RA students John Constable, J.M.W Turner and William Blake learned how to sketch from plaster-cast models of ancient sculptures before they were let loose on real-life models.

The Poster Bar

One of our favourite new additions is The Poster Bar. An ideal spot for a pre-exhibition coffee or post-show cocktail, the bar is decorated with iconic posters from the RA’s past, many of which were reprinted specially (and are available to buy in a variety of sizes – uh oh). Upstairs the Dorfman Senate Rooms have been reconfigured by Chipperfield, transforming it into a modern all-day dining room that’s the perfect place to soak up the surroundings after an afternoon at the gallery.

Landscape by Tacita Dean

A champion of analogue film, Tacita Dean is the very first artist to exhibit her works in the newly opened Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries. Focusing on large-scale landscapes, the internationally renowned visual artist and Royal Academician will explore landscape in its broadest sense: intimate collections of natural found objects, a mountainous blackboard drawing and a series of cloudscapes in chalk on slate created especially for these spaces will draw you into her vision. The highlight of the exhibition is her new experimental 35mm film, Antigone, shown as two simultaneous cinemascope projections.

Until 12th August 2018

The Summer Exhibition

One of the highlights in the London arts calendar, this year’s Summer Exhibition is set to be extra special. Co-curated by RA alumni Grayson Perry, the exhibition draws together 1,200 works by internationally renowned artists, exciting new talent and first-time exhibitors, all of which have been handpicked by Perry and his selection and hanging committee. To mark the anniversary, this year the exhibition will spill out onto the streets of the West End, with a monumental sculpture in the RA’s courtyard.

From 12th June-19th August 2018

The Great Spectacle

Running in parallel to the Summer Exhibition, The Great Spectacle will tell the story of 250 years of the show, the world’s longest running annual display of contemporary art. Alongside interlinked galleries displaying exhibition highlights from over the years, there will be a series of themed tours and workshops around the event.

From 12th June-19th August 2018

The Summer Pleasure Garden

This June, the gallery will be hosting its biggest RA Late yet. Inspired by Georgian London, the entire gallery and its courtyard will be transformed into a pleasure garden filled with music, art and entertainment – expect DJs, soundscapes, moonlit dancefloors, gin grottos, artist installations, creative activities, secret bars, sketching classes with Wild Life Drawing and a summer ball. Street food will come from the likes of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Oyster Boy and Club Mexicana.

All visitors will also be privy to an after-hours viewing on the Summer Exhibition. Fancy dress is a must.

21st June 2018

The Festival of Ideas

In September, the RA will host ten days of debate and discussion around art, architecture, literature, design, film and music. Headline speakers include musician and artist Goldie, artistic director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo, artist Es Devlin, Gilbert and George RA and Man Booker prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson. Events will range from interviews and panel discussions to family workshops – all taking place in the brand-new Benjamin West Lecture
Theatre and Clore Learning Centre.

From 7th-16th September 2018

Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna Exhibition

It might not open until November, but we’re already excited about one of this year’s most-anticipated exhibitions, Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna. Visitors will be able to see rare and fragile drawings by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, offering intimate insights into their artistic relationship and differing creative processes. This collaboration with the Albertina Museum in Vienna will mark the centenary of both artists’ deaths.

From 4th November 20183rd February 2019

Burlington House, Piccadilly W1J 0BD

Visit RoyalAcademy.org.uk

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