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Royal Academy of Arts

Art, Galleries Mayfair
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(12user reviews)
Royal Academy of Arts ( John Bodkin)
John Bodkin
Royal Academy of Arts
Royal Academy of Arts ( Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
Royal Academy of Arts (Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
Jonathan Perugia / Time Out
Royal Academy of Arts (John Bodkin)
John Bodkin
Royal Academy of Arts (Jonathan Perugia / Time Out)
Jonathan Perugia / Time Out

For 250 years, Britain’s first art school has been a hotbed of artistic talent. You name ’em, they were an Academician. But the RA’s also got serious pedigree when it comes to putting on big shows, like 2016’s totally incredible ‘Abstract Expressionism’ show. Now, it’s got a big old extension, including its first free permanent collection display – and it’s just as important as it’s ever been.

By: Time Out editors


Venue name: Royal Academy of Arts
Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly
Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm; Fri 10am-10pm
Transport: Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: Some exhibitions free, ticketed exhibitions vary
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Pick a date

  • Until Sunday June 23 2019
  • Until Monday August 12 2019
  • Sunday June 30 2019 - Sunday September 29 2019
  • Saturday July 20 2019 - Sunday October 27 2019
  • Saturday September 21 2019 - Tuesday December 3 2019
  • Sunday October 27 2019 - Sunday January 26 2020
  • Sunday November 24 2019 - Sunday February 23 2020

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening

Stunning venue for large-scale exhibitions. Although it's often quite pricey to see their major exhibitions, they are always really well put together - I saw an Ai Weiwei exhibition here, as well as the recent Russian Revolution exhibition - both were absorbing and well thought-out.


I head to the RA for their Summer Exhibition every year and am never disappointed. I've been to a good few other exhibitions but if you want to ease in to trying out art exhibitions then the Summer Exhibition is perfect as it's so varied with all different types of art from numerous artists.

The RA itself is a lovely building and worth a look too. I particularly like the impressive staircase at the entrance.

Also worth a look is the classic red telephone box outside the RA under the entrance to the courtyard on the right. It's the prototype for the phone box from way back in the day. A little plaque tells you about this.


I have a love hate relationship with the RA. The building is so big yet so little of it is actually exhibition space, at least so it seems. 

If you're looking into going to more than one show here in the span of a year, I strongly recommend getting a Membership, it is completely financially worth it. And you get to go to the members only weekends, which are WAY WAY less busy.

Having been with my mother to see Ai Wei Wei, and then to see the Monet to Matisse, and more recently the Abstract Expressionism, each show had its highs as low. The first few rooms definitely draw you in to the subject matter, but the last few rooms always seem a little dull and less exciting. That being said, I love how they integrate sculpture with the artwork behind it, especially with the amazing abstract sculptures in the Abstract Expressionism show. 

I've heard good thing about their current exhibition too. The RA's definitely worth going to. 


The Royal Academy of Arts' gallery is on Piccadilly, it is directly across the road from Fortnum & Mason.

The Academy was founded in 1768 by King George III. They have many varied exhibitions throughout the year. These include single artist exhibitions, for example, Hockney and Ai Wei Wei have been on so far this year. There are also themed shows containing many different artists. "Painting the Modern Garden" included works by Kandinsky, Monet and Matisse. Next years "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" will have Chagall, Rodchenko and Eisenstein among others.

The highlight of their year is the Summer Exhibition, on open submission exhibition, to showcase the talent of emerging and established artists. The first one was in 1769 and it has run every one of the 248 years since. This is a huge and wide ranging exhibition usually holding over 1000 pieces, of every shape, size and medium. Most of the works are for sale differing in price from a hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands.

The gallery is nominally free, but most of the exhibitions are charged, so choose what you wish to see. 

The Summer Exhibition is good value, although I take off the voluntary donation and only buy one list of works for the whole party, the cost of these is automatically added unless you ask for them to be removed.

The Royal Academy is  self funded, though, so do as your conscience sees fit!  Personally, I don't feel too guilty as they charge 30% commission on any work sold.


Went to the RA Late: Venetian Magic event this last weekend. The event was put on in conjunction with their "In the age of Giorgione" exhibit. It was promoted as a sort of Venetian masquerade and boy, it did not disappoint! 

The Royal Academy itself it a beautiful feature, with ornate gilded rooms. It was amazing to see so many people dressed up in proper costume with fully decked out Venetian masks, wandering around these historic spaces. There were various rooms to entertain: a carnivale with DJs and actors performing dance pieces, another with props for taking photos, a room with a prosecco-bar and plush velvet sofas, a life-drawing room lit by (fake but still cool) candle light, and even a film viewing in another room. Guests also had access to the exhibit, but unfortunately I found it to be a bit disappointing. It could be that the rest of the rooms were so decadent and creatively done that the exhibit fell a bit flat for me.

Overall, it was an amazing alternative night out. Enjoyed being able to do something fun and exciting on a Saturday night that didn't involve a pub or a club. Would absolutely go to a late at the RA again! 

I have been to the RA a couple of times now and I can safely say that they are really good at pulling you in!  I stayed away from the Ai Wei Wei exhibition (I am not interested in anything that makes an obvious political statement) but I couldn't say no to seeing Painting the Modern Garden - Monet to Matisse.  This exhibition brought together not only some of Monet's famous Japanese bridge over water lilies paintings but also his large paintings of water lilies in the pond being his last works.  Finally seeing some of these together in one room was personally a dream come true.  It also brought together the works of other Impressionists of the time, i.e. Matisse, Kandinsky and paintings of English and Scandinavian gardens.  Altogether you got to see a lot of different interpretations as well as aesthetics.  However to get there, I had to become a Friend of the RA which incidentally, is not cheap and does not include the Audio Guide :(  Disaster averted, I turned on Apple Music and listened to French classics to block out the white noise.  It worked quite well I have to say!  


My favourite ever museum in London, the Royal Academy of Arts. A spectacular museum on Piccadilly, 5 mins walk from Piccadilly Circus.

Exhibition of the year is on: Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse.

Book in advance as queues are always long.

Pop to Laduree in the Burlington Arcade which is almost next door (very pretty arcade and excellent macaroons)


Wonderful space with great exhibitions and I really loved their 24 hour openings following the demand for Ai Wei Wei exhibitions. I think more galleries across London should do the same. There's a different feel late at night and your mind perceives things differently then. 


The RA is a lovely place but it can be a bit hit and miss at times with the shows, and the facilities are under going a needed redesign to cope with numbers. Currently they have a number of exhibits on, Ai WeiWei, Edmund De Waal and the Waterloo Cartoon among them, and all worth seeing - u can find on Time Out more detailed reviews of Ai WieWie. The de Waal is also a must see, though will cost members and non members alike £5 and is only open on Thursday-Saturday as it is set through the 2 rooms of the RA's working library, a room that is a beauty in its own right. If you read the Hare with the Amber Eyes, you will want to visit as it is an exhibition of white that accompanies his his new book on his journey with white and porcelain. Included are works by de Waal, a sculpture from 1BC South Arabia, Turners water colour palate and the Hare with the Amber Eyes itself. The way the pieces de Waal has chosen as spread through the library make it hugely engaging and a semi treasure hunt.

The Rubens exhibition at the Royal Academy of the Arts was absolutely fantastic! 

I advise every art lover to visit the exhibitions. The gallery is near Piccadilly Circus in the very heart of London.


The academy itself is beautiful with lovely interior design. However, I wasn’t impressed with 2015’s summer exhibition.

It seemed thrown together and there was little cohesion or explanation. Had I not been a guest at a free event I would have been very disappointed with my experience, as the content was not up to the standard I would expect of a leading gallery; we spent no longer than 20 minutes in the rooms because there wasn't much of interest to see.

I'm unlikely to be paying to return. However, art is subjective, so maybe see for yourself. 

As this is advertised as a free gallery i went along to check it out...there were 3 or 4 paintings on a wall behind a stairwell that were free to view, all the exhibitions were £20 or more. This shouldn't be listed as a free gallery at all.

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