The Great Spectacle
250 Years of the Summer Exhibition
12 June - 19 August 2018
The John Madejski Fine Rooms, Weston Rooms and Galleries I and II, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts
Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
Special late opening for final weekend
Sat 18 August: 10am – 8.30pm
£16 (without donation £14). Concessions available. Under-16s go free with a fee-paying adult. Free for Friends of the RA with no booking required.
Friends of the RA go free
The Great Spectacle tells the story of 250 years of the Summer Exhibition, the world’s longest running annual display of contemporary art.
Every summer for the past two and a half centuries, we’ve filled our galleries with artworks submitted by artists from across the country. As the world has changed dramatically, so too has the art that makes it onto the walls of the RA each year to form the famously crowded and collage-like arrangement of pictures that dominates each exhibition.
During its long lifetime, paintings, sculpture, drawings and architectural designs by household names such as John Constable, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent, Laura Knight, Zaha Hadid, Peter Blake and Tracey Emin have been displayed alongside work by first-time exhibitors, creating the distinctive visual character that draws thousands of visitors to the Summer Exhibition each year.
Staged to coincide with the Summer Exhibition of 2018, The Great Spectacle revisits important moments in the history of the Academy and its annual show: from its inception as a showcase for grand society portraits and epic history scenes, via its role in the fight for women’s suffrage and the impact of two World Wars, to its ongoing status as a platform for both established and unknown contemporary artists.
Take a fascinating, ever changing journey through 250 years of art.
All ticket prices include £2.50 for a printed gallery guide.
Become a Friend to see for free
250th Summer Exhibition
This summer, Grayson Perry RA coordinates the biggest, brightest and most colourful Summer Exhibition yet, in our 250th annual celebration of “art made now”.
There’ll be a monumental sculpture in our courtyard and artworks in an array of mediums throughout our galleries, all handpicked by a committee led by Grayson Perry RA. With over 1,200 works on display, you’ll see art you love, art you hate, art that leaves you thinking and art that simply puts a smile on your face.
250 years of the Summer Exhibition online
In celebration of the Royal Academy's 250th birthday and coinciding with The Great Spectacle exhibition, a new open access publication by the Paul Mellon Centre looks back at 250 years of the Summer Exhibition. Explore 250 years of stories, artworks and data, alongside lively year-by-year essays and a complete set of digitised and searchable Summer Exhibition catalogues.