The Royal Academy has launched the biggest arts crowd-funding target ever attempted in the UK. The campaign, hosted by Kickstarter, has been set in motion in order to raise money for the major exhibition of the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei that will be opening at the Royal Academy, London, this September. It will be his first major museum show in the UK.

The £100,000 target will enable a huge, site-specific installation of Ai Weiwei’s eight Tree sculptures in the Royal Academy’s courtyard, just off Piccadilly. The Tree series consists of trees that have died naturally on the mountains of southern China, and are then sold in pieces as decorative objects in local markets. Since 2009 Ai has been buying these component parts and transporting them to his studio in Beijing, where they are pieced back into complete trees. The RA plans to exhibit eight of these trees, the largest number to have been shown together to date.

The exhibition has been scheduled at very short notice, which is why the organisation – which receives no government subsidy – has turned to crowd-sourcing as a method of fundraising. Tim Marlow, the artistic director of the RA, said that “It is an experiment and a gamble, but a sensible one.”

Donors can pledge from £5-£5000, with rewards that range from a wink from Ai Weiwei’s cat, Garfield, to an exclusive private tour of the exhibition with the show’s curator, Adrian Locke.

It is unlikely that Ai Weiwei, who is known for his politically provocative work, will be unable to travel to the show, as his passport has been confiscated by the Chinese government.

“Kickstarter” , the fundraising page says, “embodies the spirit of individual collaboration on a global scale that is central to Ai Weiwei’s art and activism. We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to be personally and directly involved with Ai Weiwei’s London exhibition through support of the Tree series that represents the unity of people across time and national boundaries.”

For more information about the project and your chance to donate, visit: