The Great Spectacle

250 Years of the Summer Exhibition

12 June — 19 August 2018

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The Great Spectacle tells the story of 250 years of the Summer Exhibition, the world’s longest running annual display of contemporary art.

Ever since 1769, and at a succession of locations ranging from Pall Mall to Piccadilly, the Academy’s exhibition rooms have been crowded for some two months each year with hundreds of paintings and sculptures produced by many of Britain’s leading artists.

Over the last two hundred and fifty years, these spectacular displays of art – dominated by what has become a famously crowded and collage-like arrangement of pictures across the Academy’s walls – have provided thousands of artists with a crucial form of competition, inspiration and publicity, and captured the interest of millions of visitors.

The Great Spectacle tells the story of these exhibitions and, in doing so, offers an innovative, illuminating and visually stunning celebration of the Academy’s first 250 years and demonstrates the impact of these exhibitions on art in Britain and internationally.

Staged to coincide with the Summer Exhibition of 2018, and taking the form of a sequence of interlinked gallery displays that will recreate a series of important moments in the history of the Academy and its shows, The Great Spectacle will dramatise the excitement, variety and richness of the Summer Exhibition, offering visitors a fascinating, ever-changing journey from Joshua Reynolds to Wolfgang Tillmans.

12 June — 19 August 2018

The John Madejski Fine Rooms, Weston Rooms, Galleries I and II.

Ticket information will be announced later in 2017.