Published 19 March 2018

The Queen has visited the Royal Academy to open the new Burlington Gardens building and mark its 250th anniversary.

The Royal Academy was founded in 1768, after King George III signed the 'Instrument of Foundation', and has been a voice for artists ever since.

It is an independent charity led by eminent artist and architects – the 'Royal Academicians' – which promotes the appreciation and practise of the visual arts and architecture through exhibitions, education and debate.

In 1768 it was decided that the King should be 'Patron, Protector and Supporter' of the institution and that 'the annual accounts should be audited and the deficiencies paid by the Keeper of His Majesty's Privy Purse'. Since then, the Academy, acting as a self-supporting, self-governing body of 'artists', has retained a unique relationship with the Sovereign – The Queen still continues as the Academy's 'Patron, Protector and Supporter'.

On arrival to the Academy, The Queen was able to view the current exhibition 'Charles I: King and Collector', which reunites items from Charles' magnificent collection.

King Charles I acquired works by some of the finest artists from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, including Titian, Mantegna, Holbein, Dürer, Van Dyck and Rubens. Following the King’s execution in 1649, his collection was sold off and scattered across Europe.

Many items in the exhibition have been lent by The Royal Collection – find out more.

Her Majesty then toured the new Burlington Gardens building, a transformative redevelopment designed by the internationally acclaimed architect, Sir David Chipperfield RA.

The new Royal Academy will open up and reveal more of the elements that make the RA unique – sharing with the public historic treasures from its Collection, the work of its Royal Academicians and the Royal Academy Schools, alongside its world-class exhibitions programme.  

After meeting those involved in the redevelopment, The Queen unveiled the first painting to be installed in the new spaces, ahead of the full public opening of the new Royal Academy on 19th May.