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Royal Academy of Arts – John Madejski Fine Rooms

Royal Academy of Arts
Where? Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly · Web: royalacademy.org Opening times? 10 AM to 6 PM (Tue-Sun); Closed (Mon); Last entry 30 mins before closing Visiting hours may change Time required? A typical visit is 30-45 mins Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 14, 19, 22, 38 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Piccadilly Circus Bakerloo Piccadilly Other nearby stations: Green Park and Oxford Circus Train fares

Craig’s review… You might find this hard to believe if you’ve read a few of my art gallery reviews, but I did actually go to art school once. And I really do mean once (I quit on the very first day). After looking around the induction hall I quickly realised that I wasn’t cut out to be an art student because you need to have a silver stud in your nose and basically look like you failed every single subject at school except art. I was imagining a place more like the RA in its heyday, because back in the 18th and 19th-century it really was an academy, the greatest art school in the country, and taught the likes of Turner, Gainsborough and Blake.

Apparently they still accept a few new students today but if you want to join their prestigious list of Academicians then forget it – you have to get voted in by ballot. Their current membership includes famous names like David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor.

The John Madejski Fine Rooms

As far as tourists are concerned it’s just another art gallery and the real meat and potatoes of their permanent collection is hung inside the John Madejski Fine Rooms. That’s where you’ll find works by the Academy’s former members (the Constables, Gainsboroughs, Reynolds and the rest), but you bizarrely have to join a guided tour to see those – that’s the only way of getting inside – and they don’t run very often. Why on earth do they restrict access like that? That’s like the Tower of London telling people they can’t see the Crown Jewels.

If you arrive at any other time then you’ll have to stump up some money for one of their temporary exhibitions instead. These exhibitions can feature anyone at all and are usually housed inside four little rooms upstairs. I’ve only ever spent about thirty minutes in these exhibitions – that’s how small they are.

Personally I think the building is better than the art, and it’s worth a quick walk down Piccadilly just to peer inside their impressive courtyard.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Courtauld Gallery (walk it in 20 mins or travel from Piccadilly Circus to Temple by tube); National Gallery (you can walk it 10 mins); Tate Britain (walk it in 28 mins or travel from Piccadilly Circus to Pimlico by underground) and Wallace Collection (walk it in 18 mins or catch a tube from Piccadilly Circus to Bond Street)

London Squire bookThe owns londondrum.com and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

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Your comments and questions

e Chambers I have been here so many times that I have lost count and there is always an interesting exhibition on. but i love the cafe and i often come here just to sit and have a coffee

peter rogers The National has the most wonderful permanent collection but the RA and Queen's Gallery have the best exhibitions. Their Gauguin exhibition was excellent as usual

MVilliers The quality can be a bit up and down in their summer exhibition but it's always worth attending with a good variety of art on show

Tm How do i enter my own work to the summer exhibition? is it allowed?

Craig Hi TM, you can certainly give it a go. Here are some details from their website - royalacademy.org.uk/summer-exhibition-terms

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