If you’ve visited the Royal Albert Hall in recent months you may have noticed all sorts of scaffolding and building works going on around the building.

All of this work is being carried out ahead of the Hall’s 150th birthday, which will fall on 29 March 2021 – we thought a nice 150th present would be to give the place a good old clean-up, and carry out some expansion plans to ensure we’re equipped to tackle the next 150 years.

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Step forward The Great Excavation, the grand name for our plans for the south-west quarter of the Hall (and responsible for most of the ongoing exterior works), which will add an additional 1000m² of space.

Why is the Hall expanding?

In the venue’s first ever year we staged an impressive 36 shows – quite an achievement at the time.

(1).jpg(The opening of the Hall in 1871

We now host almost 400 events in our main auditorium per year. On top of this we host hundreds of events in other spaces around the venue, welcome hundreds of groups of young people to events organised by our Education & Outreach team, bring dozens of tour groups around the building every day, and even have a pizzeria!

New Order at the Royal Albert Hall. Photo Andy Paradise, 2016

We want to open up our building to even more people, give staff, artists and visitors a better experience, and continue to be extremely ambitious for what we can do on our small plot of land in South Kensington.

Of course the easy option to expand our building would be a big breeze-block extension, but that wouldn’t look very nice, so, like many a nice pad around this part of London, the only option is for us to expand underground…

The Great Excavation

The Great Excavation project will result in the installation of a two-storey, double height basement on the south-west quadrant of the building.

This will open up around 1000m² of back-of-house space for us, which will allow us to create a new multi-purpose space for artists, schools and community groups, install a new café area for visitors, and a new space to share rare material from our archives.

The Great Excavation plot

Additionally, this expansion will see us improve our backstage facilities, replace our existing boilers with energy-efficient ones and allow us to shuffle existing storage and office spaces around our current building in order to better-serve the millions who come through our doors every year.

To install this new space we’ve had to dig a big hole, so please forgive the unsightly works going on outside on your next visit. This project will allow us to improve the experience for all visitors to the Hall, and enable our Education & Outreach team to change more lives through music than ever before.

(3).jpg(The Great Exhibition, 1851

The name ‘The Great Excavation’ was inspired by the The Great Exhibition of 1851, a huge international celebration of culture and industry that took place over the road in Hyde Park. Proceeds from The Great Exhibition went towards the funding of the Royal Albert Hall in 1871.

How’s it looking?

Check out our live feed of The Great Excavation. This image will update every 15 minutes:

How is this being funded?

The Great Excavation has been made possible thanks to significant donations from the Hall’s closest friends and supporters and we are even closer to funding this project thanks to a recent donation from the Kirby Laing Foundation and a lead donation from the Julia & Hans Rausing Trust.

You too can help. The Hall is a registered charity and we receive no public or Arts Council funding, so we rely on our business activities and donations from our generous benefactors. You support us by coming to events at our venue, however if you’re able to donate separately, either when buying a ticket through our website, or by donating to a specific project on our site, then you will helping this amazing charity thrive for the next generation of artists and audiences.