The Royal Academy of Arts in London is set to open up its permanent collection with a redesign that will mark its 250th anniversary in 2018.
The redevelopment work is being led by David Chipperfield Architects and will involve creating new exhibition spaces and linking Burlington House and Burlington Gardens for the first time, to transform the RA’s 1ha site.
The redesign is being backed by a £12.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as donations from other foundations and private donors. Work is set to start – with the aim of completing by 2018 to mark the anniversary of the RA’s establishment.
The RA says that one of the key outcomes of the redesign will be new spaces to showcase the institute’s 46,000-strong collection of objects and artworks. These will be open to the public for free.
At the moment there is only one room dedicated to the RA’s collection – the Tennant Gallery. However, after the redesign there will be a new Collections Gallery in the western wing of Burlington Gardens; an exhibition space in the ground floor of the Sackler Wing and new spaces in the Link Vaults in Burlington House’s undercroft.
In addition, new spaces for temporary exhibitions will be opened up on the ground floor of Burlington Gardens, while galleries on the building’s first floor will be refurbished.
A new learning wing will be created in Burlington Gardens, featuring a lecture theatre and a learning centre.
The redevelopment work will also see conservation work carried out on the façade of Burlington Gardens and the north-facing entrance redeveloped to become more “welcoming” and to “bring about a fundamental shift in the visitor experience”.
There will also be a link bridge connecting Burlington House and Burlington Gardens to create a central route from Piccadilly to Mayfair.
Architect Sir David Chipperfield says: “The project is an architectural solution embedded in the place itself, a series of subtle interventions which will add up to something very different.”
RA chief executive Charles Saumarez Smith says: “This is not just a major building development, it is an undertaking which will transform the psychological, as well as the physical, nature of the academy.”
The RA says it is yet to announce the exhibition design team for the new development.