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An independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate. The Academy has an ambitious exhibitions programme in The Sackler Wing and Burlington Gardens galleries where the Summer Exhibition, which is open to anybody, is a highlight of the London Season. There are regular free tours of the building, Burlington House, which was once a private building where the Elgin Marbles were stored before they were moved to the British Museum. A Michelangelo tondo of The Virgin and Child with the Infant St John is a highlight of the RA’s own collection. The RA Schools, which started here for figure studies on the Italian style, today admit 17 pupils each year.
Luminaries of the arts and sciences look down on the surrounding courtyard, which became a cultural enclave in 1854, housing five learned societies: The Linnean Society, Geological Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Society of Antiquaries and Royal Society of Chemistry. Some of these can be visited, either on booked tours or on open days. Carl Linneas’s own collection of flora and fauna is stored in purpose-built cabinets in an underground bomb-proof vault.
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