Royal Academy of Arts

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The Royal Academy of Arts was founded by George III in 1768. Governed by artists to 'promote the arts of design' and was the first institution in Great Britain devoted solely to the promotion of the visual arts. The Royal Academy raised the standing of art, artists and architecture. It has held an annual selling exhibition since its formation and held its first loan exhibition in 1870 of 'Ancient Masters'. It now enjoys an unrivalled reputation as a venue for exhibitions of international importance.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Sat-Thurs 10.00-18.00
Fri 10.00-22.00

Admission charges

Varies with each exhibition


  • Museums Association

Collection details

Design, Fine Art, Architecture

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Academicians in Focus: Timothy Hyman RA

  • 30 April — 22 October 2015 *on now

This exhibition assembles some of the poignant and characterful drawings and paintings resulting from Timothy Hyman’s 60 visits to Maggie’s Centres as part of an artist’s residency from 2011–12.

Maggie’s Centres provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996, using a blueprint for cancer care established by Maggie Keswick Jencks before her death in June 1995. Since then the charity has commissioned a sequence of outstanding, modestly-scaled buildings sited alongside NHS hospitals
many being designed by major architects, often without fee.

A moving and sensitive portrayal of the inner life of the centres, this exhibition celebrates those who benefit from them – their gatherings, preoccupations, and individual journeys – and explores the essence of the buildings both spiritually and structurally.

Friends, Patrons & Corporate Members have access from 10am, general public from 4pm.

Suitable for


Hide and Seek: Drawings by Eileen Cooper RA

  • 29 May — 23 August 2015 *on now

This summer the RA celebrates the art of Eileen Cooper RA with an exhibition of drawings spanning almost 40 years of her career.

This exhibition, which coincides with the publication of a monograph celebrating Cooper’s career, presents drawings spanning almost 40 years. Cooper creates work that possesses a strongly poetic and distinctive vision, and the artist has been described as a ‘magical realist’. An accomplished painter and printmaker, Cooper’s practice has always been underpinned by drawing. This remarkable body of work illustrates how her distinctive imagery has developed through making drawings that explore such subjects as sexuality, birth, family, fecundity and creativity. We are delighted to display, as part of the exhibition, the artist’s gift to the Royal Academy Collections of ten previously unseen mixed-media drawings. These feature Cooper’s iconic female figures, and are multi-layered and complex in form.

Suitable for


Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket or £3 General Admission ticket. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


Summer Exhibition 2015

  • 8 June — 16 August 2015 *on now

Now in its 247th year, this exhibition continues the tradition of showcasing work by both emerging and established artists in all media, including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, architecture and film. The Summer Exhibition attracts a high volume of entrants annually with over 10,000 entries received in 2013.


£13.50 (without donation £12). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


sculpture: wooden box containg paper bird and newspaper clippings

Joseph Cornell Wanderlust

  • 4 July — 27 September 2015 *on now

Cornell hardly ventured beyond New York State, yet the notion of travel was central to his art. His imaginary voyages began as he searched Manhattan’s antique bookshops and dime stores, collecting a vast archive of paper ephemera and small objects to make his signature glass-fronted ‘shadow boxes’.

These miniature masterpieces transform everyday objects into spellbinding treasures. Together they reveal his fascination with subjects from astronomy and cinema to literature and ornithology and especially his love of European culture, from the Romantic ballet to Renaissance Italy.

Wanderlust brings together 80 of Cornell’s most remarkable boxes, assemblages, collages and films, some never before seen outside the USA. Entirely self-taught, the independence of Cornell’s creative voice won the admiration of artists from Marcel Duchamp and the Surrealists, to Robert Motherwell and the Abstract Expressionists, with echoes of his work felt in Pop and Minimalist art.


£11.50 (without donation £10). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


Daniel Maclise: The Waterloo Cartoon

  • 2 September 2015 — 3 January 2016

To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo a rarely exhibited treasure of the RA’s Collection, the Daniel Maclise cartoon, The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo, will be on display after spending decades in storage.

Over 13 metres wide, it is one of the largest cartoons in the UK and was produced in preparation for a prestigious commission in the Houses of Parliament, where the the finished wall-painting is still on display. A work of monumental scale and drama it depicts one of the most significant battles in British history in incredible detail.

Maclise was a prolific painter and illustrator who was much admired for his draughtsmanship and his outstanding skill is showcased in the Waterloo Cartoon. Completed from 1858–1859 he used extensive research and eye-witness accounts to inform the work. Remarkably the piece does not portray triumphalism or glorify war, instead highlighting the tragedy and suffering of this ferocious battle.

The cartoon has recently undergone conservation treatment, thanks to funding from the Arts Council England, to allow it to be presented during this significant occasion.

Suitable for


Complimentary entry with a valid Royal Academy exhibition ticket or £3 General Admission ticket. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


photograph of Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei

  • 19 September — 13 December 2015

Our most recent single artist shows have seen some of the true greats of contemporary art animate our Main Galleries with unforgettable, powerful work. Hockney, Kapoor, Kiefer – you need to be a special artist to embrace the immensity of our historic spaces. Who better then to take up the challenge this autumn than Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most influential artists.

Ai became widely known in Britain after his sunflower seeds installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2010 but this will be the first major institutional survey of his work ever held in the UK and it will bridge over two decades of his extraordinary career.

Curated in collaboration with Ai Weiwei from his studio in Beijing, the RA presents some of his most important works from the time he returned to China from the US in 1993 right up to present day. Among new works created specifically for our galleries and courtyard are a number of large-scale installations, as well as works showcasing everything from marble and steel to tea and glass.

With typical boldness, the chosen works explore a multitude of challenging themes, drawing on his own experience to comment on creative freedom, censorship and human rights, as well as examining contemporary Chinese art and society.


£15.50 (without donation £15). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


Painting of woman with colourful gold robes

Jean-Etienne Liotard

  • 24 October 2015 — 31 January 2016

Jean-Etienne Liotard was an artist in great demand at noble courts across Enlightenment Europe. An eccentric and distinctive portraitist, he also made carefully observed scenes of contemporary life in far-flung locales.


£11.50 (without donation £10). Concessions available. Friends of the RA and under 16s go free.


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.

Lunchtime Lecture: An Introduction to Daniel Maclise: The Waterloo Cartoon

  • 14 September 2015 1-2pm

A lecture exploring Daniel Maclise's preparatory drawing ‘The Meeting of Wellington and Blücher’.

RA Friends Event: House of Lords Art and Architecture Tour

  • 24 September 2015 5-7pm

Led by specialist guides, Friends tour the state rooms of the House of Lords and the Royal Gallery, which features the Maclise mural of the Battle of Waterloo.

Friends of the Royal Academy only


Please note: this event is for Friends of the Royal Academy only.

Curator’s Collection Talk: The Waterloo Cartoon

  • 6 October 2015 3-3:30pm
  • 1 December 2015 3-3:30pm

RA Collection curator Annette Wickham introduces this epic cartoon by Daniel Maclise RA depicting the meeting of Duke of Wellington and his Prussian ally Field Marshall Blücher after the Battle of Waterloo.

Meet in the galleries; no booking required

Curator’s Collection Talk: Prints from the Napoleonic Wars

  • 3 November 2015 3-3:30pm

RA Collections curator Maria Alambritis introduces a selection of prints from the Royal Academy Collection, which depict events from the Napoleonic Wars.

Meet in the galleries; no booking required

Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Greater London




020 7300 8000

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.