This week we are celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the foundation of the Friends of the Royal Academy, which was, and remains, the bulwark of its funding. There were precedents. Les Amis du Louvre had been established in 1897 and the National Art-Collections Fund not long afterwards, originally as a way of providing acquisition funds for the National Gallery. Sir Sydney Cockerell founded the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1909 in order to acquire works of art by purchase as well as gift. Then there was a long lull until the Friends of the Tate Gallery was established in 1957 and the Friends of the British Museum in 1968. But we like to think that the Friends of the Royal Academy is the first large-scale, democratic Friends’ organisation which exists not just to support purchases, but the institution as a whole. We could not exist without them.