Britain’s first art school was founded in 1768 and relocated here to Burlington House, a Palladian-style mansion that now has a splendid courtyard in which to enjoy a coffee away from Piccadilly’s fumes and an exclusive new restaurant, the Keeper’s House. A few of its 18th-century state rooms, the six John Madejski Fine Rooms, can be seen on tours. (Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species papers were delivered for the first time in the Reynolds Room on July 1, 1858.) The meat, really, is on the third floor. First, that’s where to find Michelangelo’s only marble sculpture in Britain, an unfinished circular relief of Mary with the babies Jesus and John. The other attraction is whatever crowd-pleasing paid exhibition is on—always something impeccably selected, such as David Hockney or Australian art. The biggest event is the annual Summer Exhibition, which since the late 1700s has displayed the best works, submitted anonymously; careers have been made by it. A podcast series zeroes in on works at www.royalacademy.org.uk/podcasts. Don’t miss the wooden red “Phone Box No. 1” tucked behind the front gate—it was the 1924 prototype for what we now recognize as an international icon.
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1
Our Rating Hours Sat–Thurs 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–10pm, last admission 30 min. before closing; John Madejski Fine Rooms by free tour only: Tues–Fri 1pm, Wed–Fri also at 3pm, Sat 11:30am Transportation Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park Phone 020/7300-8000 Prices Free Web site Royal Academy of Arts
MapBurlington House, Piccadilly, W1 London
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.