A word-famous gallery has unveiled radical plans for enlarged public areas.
The Royal Academy in Mayfair will spend £50m on new developments, which will unite two halves of the site for the first time.
The plans include a 260-seat lecture theatre, an expansion of teaching areas and space dedicated to displaying students’ work.
Burlington House, originally built as a private home on Piccadilly, will be connected by a public walkway to Burlington Gardens, a former University of London building opened by Queen Victoria in 1870 and taken over by the academy in 2001.
The venue plays host to more than 200 fundraising, internal and corporate events every year.
Galleries will be added to expand the space to display the 46,000 works in the academy’s collection, most of which are held in storage, as well as spaces dedicated to the works of Royal Academicians — a group of 80 practising artists who work in the UK — and contemporary art.
Charles Saumarez Smith, the academy’s chief executive, said the scheme, which has been in the pipeline since 2008, will allow it “to show the collection more fully, more comprehensively and to much greater public benefit”.
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