£10m gift secures RA Schools’ future

The Royal Academy Schools, the oldest art school in the country, has secured its future thanks to a gift of £10m from the heir of Tetra Pak millionaire Hans Rausing, Hans Kristian Rausing, and his wife.

The schools buildings will be renamed the Julia and Hans Rausing campus in honour of the donation from their charitable foundation.

“One of the founding purposes of the Royal Academy was to provide a school of art to train the next generation of artists” said Christopher Le Brun, president of the Royal Academy. “250 years later, the Royal Academy Schools is one of the best in the world. This major gift from Julia and Hans Rausing will ensure its success for the next 250 years.”

The gift means that £11.5m of the £15m needed has been raised to upgrade the schools within their Grade II* listed 1768 building, restoring studios and adding workshops as well as, for the first time, a library, said the Keeper of the RA, Rebecca Salter.

Last year the RA, which receives no public subsidy, celebrated its 250thanniversary with a new £56m David Chipperfield designed extension. This year sees the 250th anniversary of the founding of the schools, and the schools extension will complete Chipperfield’s masterplan for the RA. Work is expected to start in 2021 and to take two years to complete. 

The RA Schools is a post graduate college which has no more than 17 students in each of its three years, and is entirely free to the students, supported by the proceeds of the annual Summer Exhibition. Studios such as the life drawing room, on whose benches Turner and Constable studied as students, and the original Sydney Smirke architecture (much of which has been hidden behind mezzanines and false walls) will be restored within their listed status, with the central cast corridor that joins the two public buildings now open to public passage.

“When we started talking about the masterplan and the renewal of the Royal Academy there was one major thing we wanted to do, and that’s to bring the Academy back as an academy” said Le Brun.

“Because the general perception is we are a set of exhibition galleries – the most wonderful exhibition programme you could imagine – but in fact it was our policy to rebalance the academy to that the education of young people and the opening up of the academy in all its aspects could be the future focus.”

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