RA Magazine Autumn 2013
Issue Number: 120
The Keeper's House: Home is where the Art is
From September the Keeper’s House at the Royal Academy opens as a sanctuary for Friends of the RA and other art lovers in the heart of Mayfair. Over the following pages, the highlights of this historic development are revealed, including its new restaurant, bar and garden
The Keeper’s House represents a dramatic improvement in facilities that more than doubles the space available to Friends, the Academy’s most valued supporters. Award-winning architects Long & Kentish have sensitively restored a beautiful suite of rooms in Burlington House that once provided a home for the Keeper of the Royal Academy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While the current Keeper, painter and printmaker Eileen Cooper RA, continues to work in her studio on the top floor, the remaining rooms within this architectural gem – located to the east of the Academy’s main entrance – have now been transformed into a set of exciting spaces for Friends and visitors. With attractive interiors designed by award-winning architect David Chipperfield RA, catering by acclaimed restaurateur Oliver Peyton and Academicians’ art adorning the walls, the Keeper’s House creates a new social hub in the heart of Mayfair. Moreover, it is accessible from morning to late at night for Friends, art lovers and artists alike.
The Sir Hugh Casson Room
The Keeper’s House can be entered from the Annenberg Courtyard at the front of Burlington House. As Friends and visitors pass through the new entrance hall, with its restored black and white paving stones, the refurbished Sir Hugh Casson Room is to the left. Beautiful oak boards greet the visitor underfoot and, from a bright white bar, refreshments will be served throughout the day, including pastries, sandwiches, soups, salads and afternoon tea. This room, like others in the Keeper’s House, is hung with works by Royal Academicians. In the evening the mood changes and the room becomes a more intimate space where visitors can relax over a glass of wine. Film screenings are planned for the future, as the room can be set up as a cinema using its state-of-the-art projector and sound system.
The Keeper’s House provides new spaces for Friends and visitors to eat, drink, relax and socialise
The Belle Shenkman Room
If Friends and visitors wish to sink into a sofa in cosier surroundings, they can unwind in the Belle Shenkman Room – a sophisticated space with green velvet sofas. With a view overlooking the new garden, this room provides a place to sit back and relax in the afternoon. Fine wines, beer and food are served throughout the day. From 4pm the lights dim, and the room is transformed into a lounge where visitors can enjoy drinks as well as cold meats and cheeses.
The Keeper’s House includes a new dining room downstairs, with architectural casts from the historic RA Collection decorating the walls – soft ambient lighting highlights the modelling of the casts to provide a textural backdrop to the space. Friends can enjoy lunch from 12-3pm, and visitors may dine in the evening from 5.30pm.
The Shenkman Bar. An impression of the new bar in the Keeper’s House.
The Shenkman Bar
In the evenings the Shenkman Bar downstairs provides a lively place to meet friends to enjoy aperitifs and cocktails made especially by Peyton and Byrne’s resident mixologist. There is an extensive list of wines available by the glass, as well as sherry and port from which to choose. With black hide bar stools, Purbeck stone floor and doors that lead onto the garden, the Shenkman Bar is a pleasurable place to while away an evening.
The Academy’s new garden, designed by renowned landscaper Tom Stuart-Smith, is an exciting addition. Stuart-Smith has created his personal vision of an art oasis, inviting Friends and visitors to take a break from an exhibition and surround themselves with its tree-like ferns, long grasses and wall-covering climbers that are lush green in summer, fi ery red and orange during autumn. The beautiful natural surroundings are complemented by Flemish brick steps, reclaimed York stone and designer furniture.
Royal Academy Trustee
We are making a spectacular breakthrough with the newly restored Keeper’s House, which should transform the whole experience of being a Friend. The building will offer more spaces for eating, drinking and relaxing. All of these are stylish and beautifully designed. I believe these facilities will encourage many more to join the Friends scheme.
CHRISTOPHER LE BRUN
President of the Royal Academy
The Keeper’s House will offer exceptional value to anyone interested in the arts today. With a dining room, garden, bar and its own entrance from the courtyard, it will hugely improve the experience of the RA, and provide a meeting place in the heart of the West End for Friends, Academicians and visitors.
Director, Peyton and Byrne
The Keeper’s House provides Friends and visitors with comfort and the highest quality, from tea to champagne, light snacks to three-course meals. There are two things I’d love anyone eating there to take away with them: the sense that the RA has created a space infused with the sensibility of art and artists, and that they haven’t had a culinary experience quite like it before.
Keeper of the Royal Academy
The Keeper’s House provides Friends with the facilities they deserve. It will also be a great destination for people who want to find out more about art. I hope it will become a hotbed for artists and art lovers alike: a place where people will live and breathe art.
Text: Eleanor Mills
Photography: Gautier Deblonde, Anne Purkiss, Phil Sayer & Francis Ware
Illustrations : Alex Hedworth, Studio of Tom Stuart-Smith
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