Here’s an interesting look inside the UK’s Royal Academy from Rupert Christiansen of the Telegraph:
Hanging lunches take place every day during the busy fortnight in which the show’s exhibits (1,266 this year) are all assigned a place in one of the RA’s magnificent galleries. Over sausages and mash, the panel of Royal Academicians responsible by rotation for the selection seemed very good-tempered about a process one might suppose to be highly fractious. Yes, there is a certain amount of jostling and horse-trading, someone admitted to me, but the RA is “a self-governing 18th-century artists’ democracy, and the system still works”. One room is always devoted to contributions from honorary RAs, such as Frank Stella and Anselm Kiefer. The regular RAs, of whom there are about 120, each have the right to display up to six works, provided they don’t take up more than
80 sq.ft of wall space (few of them reach this quota). But, after this allocation, the rest of the art world, from rank amateur to seasoned professional, stands a fair and equal chance of being chosen, each piece being identified to the judging panel only by an anonymous number. The result is something uniquely eclectic and entirely contrary to the delimited chronologies and rigorous themes on which most museums and galleries are organised. Although in recent years there has been more effort to give each room a certain stylistic flavour, the joy of the Summer Exhibition always comes more from unexpected juxtapositions than the pairing of like with like, while the absence of descriptive wall labels (a small booklet being the only guide) allows the eye and imagination a rare freedom from experts and pundits telling you what you ought to admire or notice.