6 Burlington Gardens The Royal Academy has recently been awarded £12.7m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore 6 Burlington Gardens, the historic grade II listed building immediately behind the RA’s established home on Piccadilly. This funding isn’t just going to transform the built environment of the RA. Beth Schneider, the RA’s Head of Learning, explains how the funds will enable a transformation in the way the RA engages with its visitors.
The RA Learning Department
is all about engaging people with art. Because we believe that one of the best ways to learn is to make art, we offer hundreds of practical workshops every year. Our lectures, gallery talks and tours, conversations and book clubs engage people in questioning, exploring and debating the art of the past and the present.
Our HLF-funded project is called ‘Reveal, Celebrate and Explore’. It expands our Learning focus beyond temporary exhibitions to include the history and heritage of the RA opens up exciting new opportunities for audiences to join in the arts in new purpose-built Learning spaces.
Exploring the heritage of the RA
Summer Exhibition Family Workshop 2012 The rich heritage of the RA comprises our buildings
(and their former occupants), Collections
(including the archives and library), and the practice of artists past and present who have studied in the RA Schools
or been elected as Royal Academicians.
With HLF funds, we will be able to exhibit more of the Collections onsite and online, provide glimpses of art being created in the RA Schools and delve into the role of art and artists in Britain today. We are excited about working with our audiences to develop new tours through our Collections and across the site, workshops for teachers and students that enrich the learning in the visual arts, casual hubs where families can drop in to make art together, and much more.
An A-level student takes part in an etching workshop in the RA Schools Engaging with new audiences
HLF champions building new audiences for heritage, art and culture
. At the RA we intend to expand the opportunities for volunteers to contribute through assisting with events and leading gallery talks. We’ll offer traineeships, work experience and apprenticeships. We will reach out to schools and to organisations that serve families. Our work with schools will expand beyond the academic to embrace further education (FE) Colleges, and we will enlist students to help us co-curate new events.
Working in purpose-built learning spaces
All this new activity will take place throughout the expanded RA campus. Whether that’s in the galleries, peeking into the RA Schools, or - especially - in our new spaces for learning. Currently one gallery is transformed into a Learning Studio from mid-September through early April and we hold lectures, conversations, study days and music events in the historic Reynolds Room.
The renovation of Burlington Gardens creates the first dedicated spaces for public learning at the RA, a state-of-the-art Auditorium and a proper Learning Studio available throughout the year.
Access to new art and new ideas, collaborating with new and existing audiences and working in beautiful new spaces presents wonderful opportunities and challenges for all of us in the Learning Team. We look forward to the exciting work over the next four years.