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The Great Spectacle

250 Years of the Summer Exhibition

12 June — 19 August 2018

This exhibition is now closed

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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.

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.

12 June — 19 August 2018

Daily 10am – 6pm
Friday 10am – 10pm
Special late opening for final weekend
Sat 18 August: 10am – 8.30pm

The John Madejski Fine Rooms, Weston Rooms and Galleries I and II, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts

£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.