I love art and history, and this passion has taken me to many museums and galleries around Britain and other countries.
I visited the Royal Academy of Arts in order to purchase some prints from the shop, and then perhaps visit the rest of the displays.
Whilst in the shop there was a sign pointing to a "pop up" cafe (their words not mine). I needed a coffee, so followed the signage down a corridor from the shop.
I ordered a coffee from the counter, in a room with ample chairs, tables and space.
Imagine my disgust when a woman approached (whom was sitting at a table in the cafe) during my placing the order and saying "Are you a member?". She was obviously there to make a point (of what for why?).
However so was I there to make a point thereafter.
I just turned to her and said "No" and carried on ordering my coffee.
I asked her if the Royal Academy was a "classist" institution?
Whilst the RA is an 'independent' institution they are a charity. And as such they need a reminding the last thing they should do is have an arrogance of self importance, a trait that we hope would be assigned to old school aristocrats.
The RA makes a big thing on "membership". I said to the woman that no such sign existed saying "cafe for members only" from the general shopping area. I said why advertise it in a public space.
The attitude I experienced, I felt, was more akin to 40 years ago in an apartheid South Africa.
I had my coffee, and I then decided to decline paying my £10 it would have cost to see the displays.
So I never saw the displays in the end. My advice therfore is to stick to the free art displays in other galleries in London and experience broader displays.
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