• 12 June 2018

Book cover Co-curated by Mark Hallett, Sarah Victoria Tuner and the Royal Academy's Per Rumberg, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition is now open at Burlington House.

Every summer for the past two and a half centuries, the Royal Academy has filled their galleries with artworks submitted by artists from across the country. As the world has changed dramatically, so too has the art that makes it onto the walls of the RA each year to form the famously crowded and collage-like arrangement of pictures that dominates each exhibition.

During its long lifetime, paintings, sculpture, drawings and architectural designs by household names such as John Constable, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Auguste Rodin, John Singer Sargent, Laura Knight, Zaha Hadid, Peter Blake and Tracey Emin have been displayed alongside work by first-time exhibitors, creating the distinctive visual character that draws thousands of visitors to the Summer Exhibition each year.

Staged to coincide with the Summer Exhibition of 2018, The Great Spectacle revisits important moments in the history of the Academy and its annual show: from its inception as a showcase for grand society portraits and epic history scenes, via its role in the fight for women’s suffrage and the impact of two World Wars, to its ongoing status as a platform for both established and unknown contemporary artists.

Take a fascinating, ever changing journey through 250 years of art by visiting The Great Spectacle, on view until 19 August 2018. An accompanying publicaiton edited by Mark Hallett and Sarah Victoria Turner with contributions from Jessica Feather is available to purchase from the Royal Academy shop.