A selection of images from the RSA are available for licensing through Bridgeman Images.
Archive and History
The RSA was founded during the Enlightenment by William Shipley in 1754 with the first meeting being held at Rawthmell’s Coffee House, Covent Garden, London.
Shipley’s belief that the creativity of ideas could enrich social progress was reflected in the diversity of awards offered by the Premium Award Scheme. For the first 100 years the Society encouraged innovation and excellence through this scheme in six areas - Agriculture, Manufacture, Chemistry, Mechanics, Polite Arts, Colonies and Trade.
Our long lasting commitment to education from being one of the first to promote improvement in girls' education leading to the establishment of Girls’ Public Day Schools and the first public examination system continues today with our growing family of RSA Academy schools.
We also demonstrated a strong commitment to the environment by offering awards for the reduction of smoke emissions as early as 1770, the first recorded use in an environmental context of the word ‘sustainability’ in 1980 and our continued commitment to environmental sustainability reflected in our Great Recovery Programme.
Latest from the RSA Archive
William Shipley plaque unveiled
RSA Founder commemorated with green plaque in Covent Garden, London.
On Wednesday 6th April 2016 a green plaque was unveiled dedicated to William Shipley, our founder, to commemorate the tercentenary of his birth and the site of our first meeting at Rawthmell’s Coffee House in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.
The commemorative plaques scheme, which is now a common sight across the UK, was initiatied by the Society with the first of 36 plaques erected in 1867 at Lord Byron's birthplace.
House Tours, Enquiries & Archive visits
RSA Archive images, artwork and audio
Our world-famous events are recorded and the event audio files are available on our Discovery web page for up to two years.
Online versions of our Transactions and Journals [1783 – 2011] via JSTOR are free to view and download up to 1870.
Visit the RSA's page at Art UK, showcasing the UK’s national collection of over 200,000 oil paintings.
Discovery - The National Archive
The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851
Established in 1850 to continue the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851 initiated by Prince Albert and the Society of Arts.