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How HLF funding will transform learning at the RA

Published 8 November 2013

We’ve recently been awarded £12.7m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It’ll transform our buildings – but also the way we engage with our visitors.

  • The RA Learning Department is all about engaging people with art. Because we believe that one of the best ways to learn is to make art, we offer hundreds of practical workshops every year. Our lectures, gallery talks and tours, conversations and book clubs engage people in questioning, exploring and debating the art of the past and the present.

    Our HLF-funded project is called ‘Reveal, Celebrate and Explore’. It expands our Learning focus beyond temporary exhibitions to include the history and heritage of the RA, which opens up exciting new opportunities for audiences to connect with the arts in new purpose-built Learning spaces.

  • Exploring the heritage of the RA

    The rich heritage of the RA comprises our buildings (and their former occupants), Collections (including the archives and library), and the practice of artists past and present who have studied in the RA Schools or been elected as Royal Academicians.

    With HLF funds, we will be able to exhibit more of the Collections onsite and online, provide glimpses of art being created in the RA Schools and delve into the role of art and artists in Britain today. We are excited about working with our audiences to develop new tours through our Collections and across the site, workshops for teachers and students that enrich learning in the visual arts, casual hubs where families can drop in to make art together, and much more.

  • Life drawing in the RA Schools, 1953

    Life drawing in the RA Schools, 1953

    Sir Henry Rushbury and students in the Life Drawing Room, Royal Academy, March 1953, by Russell Westwood

    Photo credit: © Royal Academy of Arts, London. Copyright: © The Artist’s Estate

  • HLF champions building new audiences for heritage, art and culture. At the RA we intend to expand the opportunities for volunteers to contribute through assisting with events and leading gallery talks. We’ll offer traineeships, work experience and apprenticeships. We will reach out to schools and to organisations that serve families. Our work with schools will expand beyond the academic to embrace further education (FE) colleges, and we will enlist students to help us co-curate new events.

  • Early Years family bunting workshop

    Early Years family bunting workshop

    Children participating in an Early Years Family Bunting Workshop, held off-site at Fitzrovia Community Centre, July 2013.

    Image courtesy Royal Academy of Arts

  • Working in purpose-built learning spaces

    All this new activity will take place throughout the expanded RA campus. Whether that’s in the galleries, peeking into the RA Schools, or – especially – in our new spaces for learning.

    Currently one gallery is transformed into a Learning Studio from mid-September through early April and we hold lectures, conversations, study days and music events in the historic Reynolds Room. The renovation of Burlington Gardens creates the first dedicated spaces for public learning at the RA, a state-of-the-art Auditorium and a proper Learning Studio available throughout the year.

    Beth Schneider is the RA’s Head of Learning.