The Royal Academy of Arts: 250th Anniversary Celebrations

Come and join the throng this weekend to celebrate this iconic arts institution’s anniversary…

There are plenty of family-focussed events taking place to celebrate the academy’s anniversary this weekend.  From an Architecture Drawing Tour, to party-hat making, from printmaking to a talk on 250 Years of Antics at The RA, plan your visit carefully so as not to miss anything!

This weekend the Royal Academy of Arts will celebrate 250 years since its foundation in 1768.  The institution has gone all-out to mark the occasion, with a large-scale expansion project providing space for major exhibitions, arts events and free exhibitions.  This weekend (19th – 20th May), the academy will invite the public to free celebrations featuring performances, music, tours, workshops and even an Oscars-style after-party!

Art Today got the low-down on this major event in the 2018 arts calendar and the extensive works behind it…

Campus Expansion:-

Sir David Chipperfield – design architect for the Royal Academy of Arts’ 250th-anniversary campus expansion. From Professor of Architecture at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart (1995 – 2001); to being honoured with the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, it is difficult to compete with such eminence.

Sir David Chipperfield – Royal Academician and Honoured Architect – was chosen as the eminent professional capable of fulfilling such a monumentous design brief.  His firm – David Chipperfield Architects, based in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai – has been behind major projects such as the Americas Cup Building, Valencia (2005-6); the Elbtower, Hamburg (2017); The Hepworth Wakefield, W. Yorks (2003-11); and Morland Mixite Capitale, Paris (since 2016).  Chipperfield’s architectural practice was set up in 1985, but before that, he earned his stripes working for greats like Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.  Since then, his company has been decorated with various awards, including the RIBA Stirling Prize (2007), and Chipperfield himself has been appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2004), Royal Designer for Industry (2006), and awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009).   In 2010, he was knighted for services to architecture in the UK and Germany, and in 2013, was awarded the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association, for recognition of a lifetime’s work.

The Royal Academy Development Trust, Chaired by Lord Mervyn Davies, has played a significant role in securing funding for the project.  The redevelopment was funded with a £12.7 million grant from the National Lottery, along with private sponsorship, and donations from Trusts and Foundations (see names below).

The Royal Academy of Arts launched a public appeal ‘Make Your Mark’ to raise £3 million which helped complete its transformative redevelopment, realise the ambitious plans for its 250th anniversary in 2018 and to ensure the next 250 years of the Academy as Britain’s foremost independent, artist and architect-led institution. For further information visit:


Art Today’s Top 10 picks are:-

  1. Sarah Kate Wilson: ‘Rainbows’ – Interactive piece, performed with Beata viscera iridis – an arrangement of Pérotin’s Beata viscera for London based choir Musarc by Piper Haywood and Toby O’Connor.  (15 minute performances between 2pm – 5pm, Saturday only).
  2. ‘Invisible Landscapes’ Exhibition Tours – Discover how digital technologies are transforming our lives and everyday environments in a series of projects inside the RA’s new Architecture Studio.  (20-minute tours at 3pm and 4pm, Sunday only).
  3. The Uncollective:  Decorative Movement – Site-responsive performance piece about queer bodies and decoration in architecture.  (30-minute performances between 2pm – 5pm, both days).
  4. Architectural model making – Design and create your own model with artist Seb Harding.  Seb will be leading a hands-on 3D workshop celebrating the iconic architecture of the Royal Academy.  (Drop-in, 11am – 3pm, all weekend).
  5. Flying flags – Celebrate 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts by designing your own flag to fly in our Courtyard.  (Drop-in, 11am – 3pm, all weekend).
  6. Collections display Tours – 20-minute tours at midday, 2pm and 4pm, both days.
  7. Apples and Snakes:  Pop-up poetry and spoken word – Poets Sumia Jaama and Joshua Judson perform new works inspired by the RA’s Collection.  (Performances at 3pm and 5pm, both days).
  8. Rachael Plays Disco – Chill out to spangly disco, soul and funk from Rachael Plays Disco.  (3pm – 6pm, Saturday only).
  9. Street Food – by The Cocktail Car Company, The Ginistry, Deviant & Dandy, Mother Clucker et al.
  10. Born N Bread:  The Art AftaParty – Taking over the RA for an art-filled after-party, featuring DJs, live performances, installations and zine-making. Get your photo taken at their immersive installation to show your love of London and the arts!

In 2007, Tracey Emin was made a Royal Academician and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, a Doctor of Letters from the University of Kent and a Doctor of Philosophy from London Metropolitan University. In 2011 she became the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing and in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her contributions to the visual arts.

For art aficionados:-

Alongside all of these must-see and must-do celebratory offerings, there are the Academy’s superlative exhibitions to take in aswell.

Celebration Details:-

Opening weekend: Saturday 19 May 10am-10pm and Sunday 20 May 2018 10am-6pm.

Exhibition opening hours: Open daily 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.30pm) and Fridays until 10pm (last admission 9.30pm).

For further information on new opening hours for Burlington Gardens please visit:

(See #RA250 on Social Media.).

Specific Expansion Programme Sponsors:-

Major support has been received from a number of private individuals, including Mrs Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler, Ronald and Rita McAulay, The McLennan Family, The Mead Family Foundation, Mr and Mrs Robert Miller and Sir Simon and Lady Robertson, as well as trusts and foundations including the Blavatnik Family Foundation, The Cadogan Charity, Clore Duffield Foundation, the Dorfman Foundation, Dunard Fund, The Foyle Foundation, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, The Monument Trust, The Rothschild Foundation and The Wolfson Foundation.


[Credits:  Feature Image – Royal Academy of Arts (;;;; Huffington Post]



Please give generously towards our magazine production costs.

Also, see our Kickstarter campaign to donate to our 2-phased Emporium and Gallery expansion programme...