Royal College of Art  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a university in London, England. It is the world’s only wholly postgraduate art and design institution, offering the degrees of M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D.. The College is housed in a number of buildings in South Kensington and Battersea, including the Darwin Building at Kensington Gore, and Stevens Building nearby in Jay Mews. The Battersea campus includes the Sculpture School at Howie St.

The college was founded in 1837, and was then known as the Government School of Design. It became the National Art Training School in 1853, with the Female School of Art in separate buildings, and in 1896 received the name The Royal College of Art. It was often informally referred to as the South Kensington Schools' during the 19th century. See Richard Burchett, an early Headmaster, for more details on this period. After 130 years in operation, the RCA was granted a Royal Charter in 1967, which gave it the status of an independent university with the power to grant its own degrees.

Its Royal Charter specifies that the objects of the College are "to advance learning, knowledge and professional competence particularly in the field of fine arts, in the principles and practice of art and design in their relation to industrial and commercial processes and social developments and other subjects relating thereto through teaching, research and collaboration with industry and commerce."

The average age of its postgraduate students, studying at Master’s and Doctoral levels, is twenty-six. Some come to the Royal College of Art direct from their undergraduate courses, others later in their careers as artists. According to the latest statistics on all graduate destinations from the Royal College of Art’s fine art courses between 1992 and 1996, from a total cohort of over 300 graduates an average of 93.9% gained work in directly related employment and at the right level. To qualify, they had to be professional, exhibiting artists.

The current enrollment tally measures roughly 900 students, all taking fine art, applied art, design, communications and humanities courses.

The Rector of the RCA is the historian and critic Sir Christopher Frayling.

The Royal College of Art played a major role in the birth of the modern school of British sculpture in the 1920s, with students including Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, and in the development of Pop Art in the 1960s with students including Peter Blake and David Hockney.

The college also has an international reputation for its teaching in the fields of automotive design, photography, industrial design and interior design, fashion, ceramics and silversmithing. Degrees in the History of Design and Conservation are offered in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, while an MA in Industrial Design Engineering is offered jointly with Imperial College, both close to the college.

Also close by are the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Geographical Society, Royal College of Music, Imperial College and Hyde Park.

Notable alumni

19th century

20th century

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