Sir John Soane's Museum Museums

Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln Inn Fields
London
Greater London
WC2A 3BP

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Soane was born in 1753, the son of a bricklayer, and died after a long and distinguished career, in 1837.

Soane designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. After the death of his wife (1815), he lived here alone, constantly adding to and rearranging his collections. Having been deeply disappointed by the conduct of his two sons, one of whom survived him, he determined to establish the house as a museum to which 'amateurs and students' should have access.

The architect Sir John Soane's house, museum and library at No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields has been a public museum since the early 19th century. Soane demolished and rebuilt three houses in succession on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, beginning with No. 12 between 1792 and 1794, moving on to No. 13, re-built in two phases in 1808-9 and 1812, and concluding with No. 14, rebuilt in 1823-24.

On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806 Soane began to arrange the Books, casts and models in order that the students might have the benefit of easy access to them and proposed opening his house for the use of the Royal Academy students the day before and the day after each of his lectures. By 1827, when John Britton published the first description of the Museum, Soane's collection was being referred to as an 'Academy of Architecture'.

Dome Area, No.13 Lincoln's Inn Fields

In 1833 Soane negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of 'amateurs and students' in architecture, painting and sculpture. On his death in 1837 the Act came into force, vesting the Museum in a board of Trustees who were to continue to uphold Soane's own aims and objectives. A crucial part of their brief was to maintain the fabric of the Museum, keeping it 'as nearly as circumstances will admit in the state' in which it was left at the time of Soane's death in 1837 and to allow free access for students and the public to 'consult, inspect and benefit' from the collections. Since 1837, each successive Curator has sought to preserve and maintain Soane's arrangements as he wished. However, over the years changes have been made and the recent Five-Year Restoration programme sought to restore Soane's arrangements and effects where they had been lost.

Visitor numbers at the Museum are currently very high. Owing to the delicate nature of the building and the exposed collections it is important that we limit the number of people in the Museum at any one time. These restrictions sometimes lead to queues forming, particularly on Saturdays. To avoid queuing (waiting times can be up to 1 hour) please make your visit as early as possible (the Museum opens at 10am). We apologise in advance for any delays you may experience and for any incovenience this may cause. The overcrowding problem has been made more acute by the current programme of restoration work which has closed certain areas of the Museum. We hope that the situation will improve from the beginning of 2005 when the building work on the three courtyards and the Museum crypt will be close to completion.

We regret that large bags and suitcases cannot be accommodated in the Museum.


Attraction Details

VenueSir John Soane's Museum
Address13 Lincoln Inn Fields, London, Greater London, WC2A 3BP
Opening times
Entry costs
Attraction typeMuseums

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