Whats in a name? Why we are the Royal Institution.

The Royal Institution by night


Contrary to popular belief we are not the Royal Institute of Science or the Royal Institute, our full name is the Royal Institution of Great Britain, also known as the Ri.



Why does it matter? Well it comes down to a difference of purpose, an institute is an organisational body created with a specific purpose, commonly to conduct its own research or directly provide education. Whereas an institution is an organisation with a wider social purpose, transcending individuals by mediating the rules and supporting a community. 

Names matter. Culturally we know and recognise the Globe Theatre but the organisation is in fact called Shakespeare’s Globe which reflects that central role of the venue and organisation in keeping Shakespeare’s work alive in the national consciousness. In the same vein, our name is intrinsically linked to our purpose. Founded by a group of influential scientists in 1799, the Royal Institution stands as a living monument to their resolve to further 'the application of science to the common purposes of life' and our name reflects this purpose. 

If we were the Royal Institute of Science we would conduct our own research and teach scientists but that is not our original purpose. Those great minds who met in 1799 wanted to found an institution rather than an institute, a prestigious venue to bring together the scientific community, support their development and showcase their work. The Royal Institution of Great Britain is and has always been a meeting place for great minds, facilitating the research of others, providing opportunities for the public to engage with that research and demystifying the world of science. 

The Royal Institution has taken this mission is . Over the last 200 years, the Royal Institution venue has been home to many eminent scientists whose discoveries have shaped the modern world; from Davy’s miners’ safety lamp, Faraday’s work on electromagnetic induction and the electric motor as well as Kathleen Lonsdale’s pioneering use of X-rays to study crystals. These scientists understood the importance of sharing their work with the public and as an independent science charity, our mission remains to harness science for the maximum benefit to society.

The Venue Hire team at the Ri aim to expand the usage of our historic central London venue bringing events into our building who share our aims of connecting, educating and growing together. With heritage spaces teeming with scientific history, your guests will be inspired to engage and get the most from their event experience. Our elegant Mayfair venue was designed to facilitate conversation and the sharing of information, values which sit at the heart of every event. Whether it’s a conference in our iconic auditorium, a corporate away-day in the Conversation Room, an awards dinner in the Library or an evening reception in the Atrium – the Royal Institution spaces are perfect venues to encourage connection, communication and community. 

The Royal Institution is a historic central London conference and event venue based in Mayfair and able to facilitate events from 10 – 400 people and has earned covid-safe event accreditation. 

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theatre full of guests for evening event

Our Spaces

With high ceilings and beautifully proportioned windows, our spaces offer natural daylight and