Free exhibitions and displays at the Royal Academy of Arts in 2023

The Royal Academy of Arts in Mayfair is giving visitors the opportunity to view a diverse selection of free exhibitions and displays at Burlington House in 2023.

The free displays and exhibitions include Highlights from the RA Collection, John Hejduk London Masque and Emma Stibbon RA Collapsed Whaling Station Deception Island, Antarctica a work in focus. Visitors do not require a booking or a ticket to attend these free events.

Showcasing the collection of the Royal Academy of Arts

Highlights from the RA Collection, which provides visitors with insights into the 250-year-old art collection of the RA and includes Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo relief and a copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper from the 16th century, is on display at the Collection Gallery in Burlington Gardens.

The same location is used for Emma Stibbon RA Collapsed Whaling Station Deception Island, Antarctica a work in focus, which takes visitors on a trip to Antarctica via a large-scale woodcut accompanied by prints, drawings and photographs, demonstrating how extreme conditions have inspired artists.

The third exhibition, entitled John Hejduk London Masque, which brings to life the prowess of American architect John Hejduk through a large-scale model of Widow’s House, opens in the Ronald and Rita McAulay Gallery on the 22nd of March until the 21st of May 2023.

The attraction of free events

Free offers are a long-established tool used to attract customers to sample products and services which encourages them to become loyal patrons. The RA, for example, has introduced an innovation giving art buffs the opportunity to take a free remote virtual tour of the Collection Gallery, a move which facilitates access for people from around the world to discover works of art by increasing accessibility and convenience.

The decision to move a traditionally in-person pastime of visiting a museum online reflects wider behavioural change brought about by the internet.

Google Arts & Culture allows art fans to now visit museums and art galleries around the world and the same phenomenon can be observed in the streaming industry with blockbuster films now released on platforms like Netflix before cinemas. In the iGaming industry, Buzz Bingo has brought the traditional game of bingo online and into the homes of players with incentives such as free slot spins available to new customers alongside ongoing promotions such as the free big Friday quiz. The combination of incentives, convenience and free offers make the transition of entertainment pursuits online a particularly attractive proposition for customers.

Nevertheless, companies are responding to an increase in online activities by introducing offers such as the Become a Friend programme, which provides free access to all exhibitions at the RA, one of the hidden gems to explore in Mayfair, when visitors pay a fee to join. Current exhibitions include Spain and the Hispanic World Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library, which runs from the 21st of January to the 10th of April 2023. In a UK first, the exhibition provides visitors with insights into Spanish and Hispanic art and culture with works by El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Goya, plus sculptures, ceramics and silverwork from Latin America.

Black artists of the American South

The exhibition Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers Black Artists from the American South, which opens on the 17th of March and ends on the 18th of June 2023, showcases ingenious works by artists such as Nellie Mae Rowe, Thornton Dial and Mary Lee Bendolph. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the RA and Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta.

Entry to the two exhibitions is from 10 am to 6 pm from Tuesday to Sunday, and on Friday evenings both are open until 9 pm. The Become a Friend programme also gives visitors early access to the events via special preview days, alongside the chance to visit exhibitions such as Francis Bacon: Man and Beast, an event to which access is not free unless you are a friend of the RA.

There are a wide variety of artistic and cultural events and exhibitions on offer in Mayfair free of charge this year, which just goes to show that even in London’s most exclusive district, you can attend high-quality events and exhibitions without using your own money!