Royal Ulster Academy
The Royal Ulster Academy (RUA) has existed in one form or another since 1879. It started life then, as The Belfast Ramblers' Sketching Club. In 1890 it became The Belfast Art Society; later in 1930 it was changed to "The Ulster Academy of Arts" and Sir John Lavery was elected its first President: finally, in 1950 King George VI conferred the title, The Royal Ulster Academy of Arts, upon the institution.
Today the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts (RUA) is a flourishing artists' organization. Many of Ireland's most distinguished artists are exhibiting members of the Academy.
Its Annual Exhibition is the largest, open art exhibition in Northern Ireland, attracting many hundreds of artist entrants from Ireland and elsewhere.
Presidents of the Academy have included Sir John Lavery R.A, Morris Harding, William Conor, Mercy Hunter, TP Flanagan, Joe McWilliams and Rita Duffy. The present president is Julian Friers RUA. Academicians include Basil Blackshaw, Victor Sloan, TP Flanagan, Graham Gingles, Jean Duncan, Neil Shawcross and Jack Pakenham.
The RUA Mission Statement is: The Royal Ulster Academy is an artist led organisation which promotes both traditional and contemporary approaches to visual art through its exhibition and education program.
Controversy at 2013 exhibition
At the 132nd annual exhibition, held at the Ulster Museum in Belfast “The Kiss” by artist Paul Walls  was not displayed following discussions between the museum and the academy. The decision was made as the subject matter, two women kissing, was deemed inappropriate for school visitors. A petition was organised on “change.org”