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Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts

June 17th, 2020

London’s Royal Academy of Arts(RA) has been championing artists and architects for more than 250 years, and—pandemic or not—isn’t stopping now. Since its founding in 1769, the RA’s graduates have influenced culture in the UK and abroad through art practice, education, research and more. During this time of closed doors, the RA is inviting art fans around the world to walk their halls, explore their collection and delve into their stories on Google Arts & Culture.

The RA collection is a varied and unconventional treasure trove of British art, with works from luminaries like J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Angelica Kauffman, through to contemporary masters like Lubaina Humid, Yinka Shonibare, and Lynn Chadwick. Out of the 200+ worksnow available online, 20 have been captured in gigapixel resolution using our Art Camera technology, giving users the closest possible look at the details of each work.

At the ripe old age of 250, the RA underwent major renovations last year to extend and enhance their public offerings. The refreshed building was then captured from head to tail using Street View to enable art fans to explore the building and its galleries online for the first time.

Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts
RA President Rebecca Salter writes about how we must value a rich arts education for all.
© Benjamin McMahon
Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts
The Turner Prize-winning British artist Lubaina Himid RA and Royal Academician discuss teaching, politics, and her mom.
Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts
Tucked away in the heart of the Royal Academy is a hidden room of thousands of art books (and a few artworks).
© Benedict Johnson
Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy’s annual open submission art show has happened every year since 1768 and is a staple of the British art world.  Explore 250 years of the Summer Exhibition
Photo: Dave Parry, © Royal Academy of Arts
Explore 250 years of the Royal Academy of Arts
Discover the story behind the RA’s version of The Last Supper, and how it differs from the original.

Thirty stories illustrate the RA’s history, including a few lesser-known tales such as the feud between John Constable and JMW Turner. Self-guided tours of masterpieces mean you can explore at your own pace and virtually press your nose up to the canvas without raising a security guard’s ire. Take a walk through the building’s many halls, explore a sculpture installation, see the unusual props in the life drawing studio and walk from the grand Piccadilly entrance right through to the stately Burlington Gardens extension.

As Axel Rüger, Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy, says, “Especially in times of crisis, art galleries and museums should be places of community that provide inspiration, escape, solace, fun, and consolation. The Royal Academy of Arts has existed to do that since 1768. At a time when our doors are sadly closed, we are delighted to continue that cultural exchange online, through Google Arts & Culture.”

Visit g.co/MeetTheRA to explore, or download the free Google Arts & Culture app for iOS or Android.