Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

View of one of the main rooms, June 2015

The Summer Exhibition is an open art exhibition held annually by the Royal Academy in Burlington House, Piccadilly in central London, England, during the months of June, July, and August. The exhibition includes paintings, prints, drawings, sculpture, architectural designs and models, and is the largest and most popular open exhibition in the United Kingdom.[1] It is also "the longest continuously staged exibition of contemporary art in the world".[2]

A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881 by William Powell Frith, depicting Oscar Wilde and other Victorian worthies at a private view of the 1881 exhibition

When the Royal Academy was founded in 1768 one of its key objectives was to establish an annual exhibition, open to all artists of merit, which could be visited by the public. The first Summer Exhibition took place in 1769; it has been held every year since without exception.[1]


The first exhibition, in 1769, included 136 works.[2] The name Summer Exhibition dates from 1870.[2]