Sir John Soane’s: Not Your Typical London Museum

(photo by Roryrory)

You’ll find many of the world’s major museums in London like the stately British Museum, the two Tates — the Britain and the Modern — and the vast V&A. You’ll also find small wonders off the typical tourist track that are equally impressive and enjoyable. The decorative gem Sir John Soane's Museum is one that’s gained a cult following.

Sir John Soane was a late 18th/early 19th century architect whose eclectic work has had far-reaching influence. He was known for his use of domes, mirrors, stained glass and skylights to create ingenious lighting effects. Soane played with proportion and looked for new ways to increase the sense of space. His townhouse at No.13 Lincoln Fields in Holborn was his testing site and launch pad for his design theories, and it's one of few examples of his architecture and interior design work that exist today. His home also serves as a museum for his idiosyncratic collection of art and artifacts.

(photo by Vicki Brown)

There are tens of thousands of articles, and it feels like every nook and cranny of the house is jam-packed with rare books ,Greek and Roman sculptures, architectural models, picture frames, timepieces, paintings by Hogarth, Watteau, Turner and Reynolds. Soane had an intense interest in Egyptology and there is even an ancient sarcophagus for Seti I.

You can breeze through and see all the rooms in less than 20 minutes. Or you can spend hours contemplating each item. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. The narrow halls and overabundance of artifacts means that large purses and knapsacks are frowned upon, so leave them back at the hotel. It also means that a limited amount of viewers are allowed in the house at a time so you’ll often see a line to get in. But it's worth the wait.

Carolyn Goldhush

One Response to Sir John Soane’s: Not Your Typical London Museum

  1. Brent Mirrors February 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm #

    Visit the amazing Britain at War Experience the Blitz, rationing, evacuation.

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