Cultural Courtyard

Burlington House is home to five learned societies and the Royal Academy. Our proximity to one another around the courtyard allows us to advance our individual society objectives as well as working together to provide a cultural hub for the arts and sciences.

Our schedule of public events and activities is designed to make our subject areas and buildings more accessible to the public. Together, we identify areas of common interest and topics that will engage and excite diverse audiences. Our public activities range from opening our buildings as part of the annual Open House London event to smaller tours of Burlington House, coordinated public lecture series and access to our exhibitions and artefacts. Where possible, we organise such events around themes of common interest to each of the Societies and the Royal Academy.

Have a Look

Use the map to take a virtual tour of Burlington House or come and visit in person. The Courtyard and Royal Academy is open to the public daily and the other learned Societies regularly hold joint and individual public events such as exhibitions, lectures, tours and more.

Burlington House

Burlington House was built in 1664 as a private mansion for Sir John Denham, a wealthy lawyer, poet and architect, who held the office of Surveyor General to the Crown. In 1668 he sold it to Richard Boyle, the first Earl of Burlington and second Earl of Cork, Lord Treasurer of Ireland, who gave the building its present name. Burlington House passed to the second and then third Earl and, during the third Earls’ lifetime, was the regular meeting place of all the leading wits, poets and scholars of the day.

Burlington House later passed to the Cavendish family and continued to nurture the arts and sciences, being home not only to Henry Cavendish who discovered hydrogen but also to the Elgin Marbles before they transferred to the British Museum.

In 1854, the government decided to purchase Burlington House and allocated it to the use of the learned societies and the Royal Academy of Arts who still occupy the building today.