Unveiling the statues on the façade of the Royal Academy in London

The Royal Academy of Arts and John Sisk & Son today revealed the newly restored nineteenth century façade of Burlington Gardens in a special event to celebrate this significant milestone in the RA’s transformative redevelopment.


Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy and Stephen Bowcott, Chief Executive Officer of John Sisk & Son, were joined by Royal Academician sculptors Cornelia Parker and Gilbert and George, along with Blondel Cluff, Chair of the London Committee for the National Lottery, to unveil the final four statues to be restored on the building’s façade above the main entrance. These figures of arts and science sit amongst the 22 statues featured across the Victorian architectural masterpiece designed by Sir James Pennethorne; Sir Isaac Newton (Physicist and Mathematician), Jeremy Bentham (Philosopher), John Milton (Poet) and William Harvey (Physician), all of which were sculpted by the Associate Royal Academician Joseph Durham (1814 – 1877). Sisk later presented the RA with a tall glass plinth to mark this significant moment in the project.


Sisk commenced building works in October 2015, which have encompassed installing the largest temporary roof structure in London to enable the careful conservation of the Burlington Gardens façade, along with the continuing redevelopment of the interior to create new exhibition spaces, a Clore Learning Centre and Lecture Theatre. Designed by the internationally-acclaimed architect Sir David Chipperfield RA and supported by the National Lottery along with private individuals, trusts and foundations, the new Royal Academy is due to be completed in time for its 250th anniversary in 2018.


Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts, said: “We are delighted to celebrate this important point in our ambitious redevelopment with John Sisk & Son. The building has been covered for almost two years in scaffolding and it has been a long journey from wrapping the hoarding with a monumental artwork by Royal Academician Yinka Shonibare, to revealing the magnificently restored facade. We encourage passers-by and our future visitors to look up at the craftsmanship and, once again, at one of the grandest buildings in London. Now in the final months of construction, we can start to look forward to unveiling the new RA in 2018 in time for our 250th anniversary.”


Stephen Bowcott, Chief Executive Officer, John Sisk & Son, said: “Sisk is honoured to have been awarded this prestigious contract by the Royal Academy of Arts at Burlington Gardens. It is - without doubt - one of the most historically important buildings in central London with a unique story, and we are absolutely delighted to be the contractor associated with its 250 year restoration. The opportunity to work with David Chipperfield RA and the design team for this esteemed project is very exciting, combining our 160 year history and expertise in working with heritage buildings whilst giving us the opportunity to be innovative in tackling the unique challenges of the project. Sisk is proud to be creating a unique exhibition space that the general public across the world can enjoy for the next 250 years.”