Opening Doors provides a unique opportunity to explore the Academy’s relatively un-seen permanent collection, timed to coincide with its move to a new home within the RWA. At the heart of the collection lies a large number of works bequeathed by Ellen Sharples in 1849, and added to by members of the Academy during the latter part of the 19th century. These works of art now exceed 1300 including diploma works donated by every new member and a gift of 12 works from the Arnolfini Trust.
The collection’s move has unearthed photographs, catalogues, exhibition posters, letters and ephemera dating back to the start of the Academy. With a historical membership that includes a roll call of great British artists from Mary Fedden to Richard Long, alongside purchases of work from Vanessa Bell, Claude Rogers and Elizabeth Frink, the collection creates a fascinating insight into British Art from the 19th century onwards.