The Royal Academy has outlined its masterplan for what it is calling the most significant revamp since it moved to Piccadilly in 1869.
Details for Reveal, Celebrate and
Explore (2014-18), as the project is dubbed, were revealed at
the same time as the success of a £12.7m grant from the Heritage
Lottery Fund (HLF).
Connecting the two main buildings forming
the RA - Burlington House and Burlington Gardens - which are now
separated by a 20m space, is key to the scheme, which should be
completed in time for the Academy's 250th anniversary in 2018.
The RA bought 6 Burlington Gardens, behind
the existing premises, in 2001 and this masterplan will integrate
it properly with the current exhibition spaces and facilities. The
RA seemed unclear of what to do with the extra space and it was
rented out for a time. It had partly been used for commercial
gallery purposes and contemporary art dealers Pace opened there in
September last year.
The West Wing area they occupy was once the
Museum of Mankind and it has also been used by the now-defunct
Haunch of Venison gallery.
A public central link between the two RA
buildings will create "an arts campus of just over two acres in the
heart of central London", said the RA, and boosting teaching and
attracting young people seems to be a main aim.
"The link will increase visibility of the RA
Schools, which are currently hidden from view," said a spokesman.
The intention is to underline the RA's involvement in education and
The conversion will preserve the fabric and
historic features of Burlington Gardens, internally and externally
while creating a purpose-built learning centre and 300-seat,
day-lit, auditorium. And it will also bring more exhibition space
for contemporary works while upgrading the RA's online offer.
The Guardian reported that the RA
still needs to find £7m to go with £29m already raised for the
project but the RA was confident it would succeed.