Sir John Soane’s Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Amy Irvine

18 Jul 2022
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum is the extraordinary house and museum of the leading British architect and art collector Sir John Soane (1753-1837).

History of Sir John Soane’s Museum

Born in Goring, near London in 1753 and the son of a bricklayer, Sir John Soane eventually came to study architecture at the Royal Academy, winning a scholarship that enabled him to travel and study in Italy. These travels to the ruins of Ancient Rome, Paestum and Pompeii inspired his lifelong interest in Classical art and architecture. Soane’s went on to became one of the foremost architects of the Regency era and a Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806. His most famous buildings were the Bank of England (where he was architect for 45 years) and Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Soane’s was a dedicated collector of paintings, sculpture, architectural fragments and models, books, drawings and furniture, and began to repurpose his home at Lincoln’s Inn Fields as a museum for students of architecture, after acquiring and rebuilding numbers 12, 13 and 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. One of the most spectacular items he acquired for his collection included the sarcophagus of the Egyptian pharaoh, Seti I.

In 1833, Soane negotiated a private Act of Parliament to preserve his house and collection, exactly as it was arranged at the time of his death, in perpetuity, and to keep it open and free for inspiration and education. (This was also to disinherit his son, whom he disliked intensely.)

Sir John Soane’s Museum today

Today, this unique house attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year. Only 90 visitors are allowed at a time, which often means a queue outside. The museum houses a research library containing Soane’s collection of 30,000 drawings and 10,000 books as well as a small shop.

Getting to Sir John Soane’s Museum

The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm; admission is free. The nearest underground station is Holborn on the Piccadilly and Central lines.