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The Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy building, the home of the Royal Scottish Academy, is situated on The Mound in the centre of Edinburgh, was built by William Henry Playfair in 1822-6 and extended in 1831-6 for the Board of Manufactures and Fisheries. Along with the adjacent National Gallery of Scotland, their neo-classical design helped transform Edinburgh into a modern day Athens of the North. One of the bodies that proposed the building in 1821 was the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland after which the building was named the Royal Institution from 1826 to 1911. From the completion of the original building, the Royal Institution shared it with the Board of Manufactures (the owners), the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

The building, along with the National Gallery of Scotland was remodelled in 1912 by William Thomas Oldrieve. The statue of Queen Victoria top the building was sculpted by Sir John Steell. In 2003 railings (lost in World War II) together with a series of traditional lamps, were restored around both the Academy and the National Gallery behind, isolating each building from the public space here. The building is managed by the National Galleries of Scotland but a 1910 Order grants the RSA permanent administration offices in the building. The building was recently refurbished as part of the Playfair Project.

Exhibition space is shared throughout the year by the RSA with the NGS and other exhibiting societies: the Society of Scottish Artists, Visual Arts Scotland and the Royal Society of Watercolourists.

The Scottish Academy was founded in 1826 at a meeting of 11 artists in Edinburgh. Its aims were :

Revised Aims Here.

The membership included Academicians (RSA), Associates (ARSA) and Honorary Members (HRSA). The first President was George Watson RSA (1767-1837). The first Annual Exhibition was held in 1827, and as the Academy developed in stature its membership increased in the disciplines of painting, sculpture and architecture. By 1830 the Academy had begun to acquire books and prints for its library and in 1840 opened its Life School which aimed to improve the training of artists in Scotland. The Academy was granted a royal charter in 1838 and from thenceforth has been known as the Royal Scottish Academy. (RSA)

In 1850 Prince Albert laid the foundation stone of a new building on The Mound in Edinburgh, which was to house the newly formed National Gallery of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy. The RSA first held its Annual Exhibition in its new galleries on the eastern side of the building in 1855 and these continued here until 1910. The RSA also had its Council room, Library and Life School in this building. The Royal Scottish Academy has a proud tradition of promoting excellence in contemporary art in Scotland. Led by eminent artists and architects it supports the creation, understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts through exhibitions, artist opportunities and related educational talks and events. Re-establishing itself as a leading organisation for the visual arts in Scotland, it has successfully garnered a reputation for the strength of its engaging and diverse exhibitions and the fantastic opportunities it offers both established and emerging artists. (Courtsey of the Royal Scottish Academy)

RSA Website

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The Royal Scottish Academy



United Kingdom

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