One of London’s most fascinating yet often-overlooked museums, Sir John Soane’s Museum is dedicated to its namesake, the much-celebrated neo-classical architect who designed a number of acclaimed Regency-era buildings including, most famously, the Bank of England. The museum, housed across three purpose-built houses in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Central London, was the personal project and one-time home of Soane, designed to inspire and showcase his works to budding architects and students. Opening to the public after his death in 1837, the museum, although recently restored, remains true to Soane’s original design and displays over 20,000 architectural drawings and models.
The building itself is also part of Soane’s work, with highlights including a unique geometric staircase and an exquisite mirrored dome ceiling in the Breakfast Room. Furnished with Soane’s personal collection of artwork and antiques, the house is a trove of eccentricities featuring giant Egyptian sarcophagus, Roman busts and Napoleon-era memorabilia, alongside quirkier artifacts like Sir John’s false teeth and a portrait of his wife’s pet dog. The museum’s enduring charm is its peculiarity but sift through the oddities and you’ll uncover plenty of treasures - drawings by Christopher Wren, masterpieces by Canaletto and Turner and a set of William Hogarth cartoons, are all on display.
The museum, including a brand new temporary exhibition gallery, is open from Tuesday to Saturday, but the most atmospheric time to visit is the first Tuesday of each month, when a special candle-lit viewing takes place.