Royal Academy of Arts
Lonely Planet review for Royal Academy of Arts
Britain’s first art school was founded in 1768 but the organisation moved here onlyin the fol-lowing century. The collection contains drawings, paintings, architectural designs, photographs and sculptures by past and present Academicians such as John Constable, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner, David Hockney and Norman Foster. Highlights are displayed in the John Madejski Fine Rooms, which are accessible by free guided tours (1 hr; h1pm & 3pm Wed-Fri, 1pm Tue, 11.30am Sat). The displays change regularly.
The rooms themselves are a treat; it was in the Reynolds Room for instance that Charles Darwin first presented his groundbreaking ideas on evolutionary biology to the Linnean Society.
The famous Summer Exhibition (Jun to mid- Aug), which has showcased contempo-rary art for sale by (established as well as unknown) artists for nearly 250 years, is the Acad-emy’s biggest event.
Burlington House’s courtyard features a stone-paved piazza with choreographed lights and fountains arranged to display the astrological star chart of founder Joshua Reynolds on the day he was born. (Reynolds’ statue sits in the middle.)