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Royal Academy of Arts

2,137 Reviews

Royal Academy of Arts

2,137 Reviews
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Jezza3591 wrote a review Oct 2020
London, United Kingdom112 contributions31 helpful votes
Forget the main summer exhibition, this is where the real talent is. My wife and I went to see the former, but enjoyed the young artists more. Vibrant, exciting art from the future of our arts scene. Definitely not to be missed.
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Date of experience: October 2020
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Ralph K wrote a review Oct 2020
London, United Kingdom1,056 contributions94 helpful votes
Timed entry and as always we found such a variety of art in all forms that it is impossible not to enjoy some. My wife and I found much we agreed on this time and (other than some paintings that were dispalyed at dizzying heights) it was stimulating with a warm welcome from the greetings staff and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.Well done RA...It must have been a logistical nightmare to arrange it this year.
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Date of experience: October 2020
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Response from Kate T, Guest Relations Manager at Royal Academy of Arts
Responded 8 Oct 2020
Really glad you enjoyed it. Welcome back! We look forward to seeing you again soon. Many thanks, Kate
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colleen p wrote a review Sep 2020
Gravesend, United Kingdom208 contributions47 helpful votes
We went to the Gauguin and the Impressoinists exhibition, which was well laid out over three rooms with plenty of information.
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Date of experience: September 2020
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Response from Kate T, Guest Relations Manager at Royal Academy of Arts
Responded 1 Oct 2020
Thank you for your lovely review Colleen. We hope to see you again soon. Many thanks, Kate
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Steven B wrote a review Sep 2020
Uxbridge, United Kingdom99 contributions158 helpful votes
It is difficult to write a review of an art gallery because there are two separate elements to write about: the exhibition itself and the overall customer service provided by the venue. On my visit to the Royal Academy of Arts, the quality of these two experiences was wildly different. The exhibit I saw was rather good, however my overall experience as a customer was dreadful. I’ll start by reviewing the exhibition, then I’ll move on to review the customer service. I went to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the Lucian Freud exhibition which collected more than 50 of his self-portraits together. Spanning nearly seven decades of work and using various different media, including paintings, drawings and prints, the exhibition presented a good overview of Freud’s work and how it developed over the years. The number of works on display made the exhibition feel substantial without being too large and daunting, and interesting text about each of the various periods of Freud’s career punctuated each section of the gallery. One criticism would be that the lighting was slightly too dim in the Sackler Wing where the exhibit was located. This could be because this particular gallery seems to rely partially on natural light to illuminate it, but there wasn’t much of this on the murky December afternoon when I visited. As such, the works would have benefited from some extra lighting to really show them off. However, despite this, I found it to be a good exhibit and the £18 entrance fee is what you expect to pay to see an exhibition of a high profile artist’s work in one of the flagship central London art galleries. Unfortunately, considering the Royal Academy of Arts is a flagship gallery, it came as a real surprise when I discovered the venue is so badly organised. Every interaction I had with the Academy before and after my viewing of the exhibition was flawed in some way. This started when I tried to purchase a ticket on the Academy’s website but it stubbornly refused to add my order to the checkout and proceed any further, despite me trying on two separate devices. When it became clear their website didn’t work, I gave the Academy a call. I live in outer London and the tube journey to the venue is over one hour each way, so I didn’t want to make the long trip only to be told they’d sold out of tickets. I made several phone calls to the Academy over the course of about an hour, however no one ever picked up the phone; it just rang and rang. I still had no idea whether I’d be able to get a ticket or not but I really wanted to see the exhibition so I decided take a chance and make the long journey to central London anyway. When I arrived, I was able to buy a ticket in person. If there’s one available, I like to listen to an audio guide when visiting an exhibition so I can concentrate on the artwork, rather than needing to avert my eyes to read a description on a card. An audio guide was available for the Freud exhibition, so I ordered this in addition to my ticket. However, the lady on the desk sold me the wrong guide. She actually charged me for the free paper guide that all visitors receive when booking a ticket. I didn’t realise this at the time so I headed to the gallery unaware. The Sackler Wing is quite a long distance from the main entrance and involves taking a lift up to a higher floor. Here, I encountered more staff confusion. A member of the team barred my entry to the lift because she said the Freud exhibit was currently full and I would have to wait. By now I was starting to get irritated because the lady who’d sold me the ticket had advised me I could walk right in. I was getting ready to make a complaint when the member of staff blocking entry to the lift suddenly changed her mind and said I could proceed upstairs after all. When I got upstairs, there was only a short queue for the gallery which moved very fast and I was at the front of the queue in less than five minutes. However, this is where I found out I had been sold the wrong guide. The woman on the door told me I hadn’t paid the correct amount for the audio guide. I explained that her colleague must have made a mistake and asked if I could pay the difference so I could have the audio guide. However, the woman told me no because apparently she did not take any payments, she only checked tickets before granting entry. She wouldn’t make any concession, despite the mix up being the fault of her colleague, and she explained that if I wanted the audio guide, I’d have to return to the front desk and pay the correct amount. Since it was about a 10-minute walk back to the front desk (including the wait for the lift) and considering there was the new risk of not being allowed to re-enter by the member of staff guarding the lift, I decided to do without the audio guide and entered the gallery. After leaving the exhibit and taking a cursory look around the gift shop, I headed back to the front desk for a refund for the incorrect guide I’d been sold. I spoke to the same lady who’d sold me it who was very apologetic and refunded me straight away. As a gesture of good will, she offered me a voucher for a free hot drink. I was thankful for this and headed to the café in order to claim my drink. What she didn’t explain was that there are two different cafes in the Academy and the voucher was only valid in one of them. No prizes for guessing that I went to the café that wouldn’t accept the voucher. I only realised this after the waitress had poured me the cup of mint tea I’d ordered then rudely refused the voucher when I gave it to her. I left the tea with her and set off to try to locate the other café. It isn’t clearly signposted so I asked a member of staff for directions but this led me to a dead end. By now I was fed up and tired and just wanted to leave so I exited into the cold, dark December evening and began my journey home. Visiting the Royal Academy of Arts was a really bad experience for me. The Freud exhibition was good, however the pleasure I took from this was eclipsed by the terrible customer service I encountered at every step of the way. I suspect that because the Academy is one of the most prestigious galleries in London, management believe they don’t need to bother to get customer service right because people will visit anyway. However, by offering poor customer service they are causing visitors like me to have a frustrating and disappointing experience. I never did use my voucher for a free hot drink and threw it in the bin instead because I had no desire to return to this badly organised venue.
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Date of experience: December 2019
3 Helpful votes
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Response from Kate T, Guest Relations Manager at Royal Academy of Arts
Responded 3 Sep 2020
Dear Stephen, Thank you for taking the time to review your visit with us. You had a really awful experience. I'm so sorry. Please don't think that we don't care. I can see here that lots of things went wrong during your time with us. And these aggregated into one big frustration. A frustration that nobody actually stepped in to take control of. It's not lack of care, but there was a lack of thought. I'm so sorry. This is not the experience I would want for you. Nor is it the experience that most people have. If it were; we wouldn't have a business. If you have time please do email me directly on kate.topham@royalacademy.org.uk so that we can speak further. It would be a real shame for you never to return. I hope to hear from you. Many thanks, Kate
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David M wrote a review Aug 2020
Cambridge, United Kingdom2,064 contributions693 helpful votes
We went to the RA to see the Picasso on Paper exhibition - the last day! It wasn't ideal to have to wear a mask, but these days that's what you have to do. A superb exhibition and Covid precautions handled really well by the staff.
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Date of experience: August 2020
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