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Special Report

New space at Burlington Gardens with Armani


Giorgio Armani
Woman’s trouser suit (detail), fall/winter 1999-2000.
Photo: David Heald



Giorgio Armani
Woman’s evening wear (detail), spring/summer 1985
Advertising campaign
Photo: Aldo Fallai


Giorgio Armani
Woman’s evening dress and trousers (detail), fall/winter 94
Advertising Campaigh
Photo: Peter Lindberg


Giorgio Armani
Man’s suit (detail), fall/winter 1992-3 and woman’s detail
spring/summer 1996
Photo: Tom Munro

 

LONDON.- The Royal Academy opens its new space at Burlington Gardens today with a major exhibition dedicated to the career of the contemporary fashion designer Giorgio Armani. The building, acquired by the Royal Academy in January 2001, will be brought to life as a new art space in the centre of London. While long term plans for the future development of Burlington Gardens are under consideration, the Royal Academy plans to use this new space in a variety of ways, in addition to mounting its internationally renowned programme of exhibitions in the Main Galleries and Sackler Wing of Galleries at Burlington House.

The building, at 6 Burlington Gardens, lies directly behind the Royal Academy at Burlington House. The former occupants, the British Museum, have now vacated a large part of the building, enabling the Royal Academy to begin using the space creatively. With minimal intervention to the building itself, a temporary exhibition space for Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective is being prepared on the first floor. Meanwhile, facilities installed on the ground floor will include a ticket office, café, shop and entertaining area.

Giorgio Armani: A Retrospective, which opens on 18 October 2003 and runs until 15 February 2004, has been organised by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in cooperation with the Royal Academy of Arts. The site-specific installation, designed by the acclaimed artist and theatre director Robert Wilson, will provide a unique and spectacular setting for Armani’s designs. The exhibition has been made possible by Mercedes-Benz.

6 Burlington Gardens originally formed part of the Burlington Estate, bought by the Government of the day from the Cavendish family in 1854, its use being restricted to ‘the public service’. The building at 6 Burlington Gardens has always been a centre for intellectual life, for the arts, and for education. It was designed by Sir James Pennethorne, a distinguished Victorian architect, between 1867 and 1870, for the University of London to house its administrative and examination functions.

The building was occupied by the British Museum from 1970. It housed its ethnography collection and was known as the Museum of Mankind. It closed to the public in December 1997.

The Royal Academy acquired the freehold of the building from the Government in January 2001 for £5 million. Planning continues on the development of 6 Burlington Gardens, a project that will double the RA’s existing space.

The RA is an independent organisation that does not receive funding from the government. The RA will seek support from the private sector for the long-term development of Burlington Gardens. An outline grant application was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in December 2001 for funding towards the project. Following the HLF’s comments, the RA is preparing to resubmit the proposal in due course with a greater focus on the heritage aspects of the scheme.

While long term plans for Burlington Gardens are developed, the RA continues with other major capital projects. The renovation and restoration of the RA’s historic Fine Rooms will enable the public to have access to a new suite of exhibition galleries dedicated to the display of works from the Royal Academy’s Collection. The Fine Rooms will open to the public in March 2004. The RA’s Collection went on-line in May 2003, and a complete catalogue of the Collection will be published in 2007.



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