Sir John Soane's Museum
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 designed this house to live in, but also as a setting for his antiquities and his works of art. On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806, Soane began to arrange his 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.
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. By 1827, when John Britton published the first description of the Museum, Soane's collection was being referred to as an 'Academy of Architecture'.
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 (since 2005 'Director') has sought to preserve and maintain Soane's arrangements.
The entire collection of this museum is a Designated Collection of national importance.
Museum, Historic house or home
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Last entry 4:30pm.
Closed on Sundays, Mondays and Bank Holidays.
Groups of 6 or more people must book in advance due to limited space. To book go to www.soane.org, click 'your visit', then click 'groups'.
Our library is open by appointment. Contact +44 (0)20 7440 4251 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Museum has limited disabled access. Wheelchair users should telephone in advance for advice and will need to manage 6 steps up into the Museum and transfer to our own narrow skychairs. Please contact Visitor Services on +44 (0)20 7440 4274 email@example.com.
The entire collection of Sir John Soane's is a Designated Collection of national importance.
The house, museum and library of the celebrated architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) at No. 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields in London has been a public museum since the early 19th century. Soane acquired, demolished and rebuilt three houses in Lincoln's Inn Fields between 1792 and 1837 to house his extensive collections.
These include antiquities, paintings (by Canaletto, Hogarth, Turner and many early 19th century artists), furniture, architectural fragments, casts, architectural drawings, models and much else, arranged in an 'inspirational' way in Soane's picturesque and 'poetic' interiors. All the collections of the Museum are designated as, together with the house itself, they constitute a unique surviving example of an early private house museum.
Weapons and War
Key artists and exhibits
- Designated Collection
The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture
- 16 May — 27 August 2018 *on now
The first exhibition devoted to Postmodernist British Architecture, this exhibition focuses on the movement’s ‘radical moment’ in the late 70s and early 80s through the lens of its five most important architects - Terry Farrell, CZWG, Jeremy Dixon, John Outram, and James Stirling. Sir John Soane’s Museum was a major source of inspiration for these architects, and the exhibition will be shown both in the Museum’s exhibition galleries and adjoining Soane-designed period interiors, forging a rich, complex and at times surprising dialogue with the Museum and Soane’s own relationship to the architectural past.
- Any age
Curator-led tour of The Return of the Past
- 25 May 2018 12-12:45pm
- 6 July 2018 12-12:45pm
- 27 July 2018 12-12:45pm
- 17 August 2018 12-12:45pm
Join Sir John Soane Museum's Senior Curator, Owen Hopkins, for a 45 minute tour of The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture.
Hear about the early, radical moment of this controversial architectural movement as the curator guides you through the drawings, models and building fragments that make up the exhibition, many of which have never been publicly exhibited before.
The exhibition focuses on five of Postmodernism’s principle protagonists – Terry Farrell, Piers Gough, Jeremy Dixon, John Outram and James Stirling/Michael Wilford – and includes photographs, press clippings and full-scale replicas from the 1980's. The tour will take place across the Soane Museum’s exhibition galleries and first floor rooms.
- Any age
John Outram reads from his 44 Lectures
- 26 May 2018 3-4pm
Outram’s ‘Temple of Storms’ pumping station in London’s Isle of Dogs is featured in our exhibition, The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture, a show which explores the work of five pioneering protagonists of the Postmodern movement in 1980's Britain. To celebrate the exhibition and this experimental period of urban architecture, Outram will read extracts from his 44 lectures - a dizzying tour through the metaphysics of the Western City that took 17 years to script and compile.
Born in Malaysia in 1937, John Outram went on to study architecture at Regent Street Polytechnic (now Westminster University) and then the AA. His style rejected Modernist High Tech and Minimalism, instead favouring colourful layering of antiquated styles and decorative flourishes. Some of his best known buildings include the New House at Wadhurst Park, Sussex (1978–86), the Judge Institute of Management Studies in Cambridge (1995), and the Computational Engineering Building (Duncan Hall), Rice University, Houston, Texas (1997).
- Any age
The 80s Strike Back
- 15 June 2018 From 6pm
Postmodernism, power-dressing and pac-man; the Soane celebrates all things 80s with this late-night exhibition viewing.
The era that brought us some of our most outlandish urban architecture also witnessed audacious fashion trends, accelerated technological innovation and experimental counter-culture in music, art and film. To celebrate the launch of our new exhibition, The Return of the Past: Postmodernism in British Architecture, the Museum is eulogising the decade that gave birth to this controversial architectural movement. Visit the historic house after-hours for a late night viewing of the exhibition in an 80s ambience of synth, shoulder pads and slogans.
Ticket holders will gain special after-hours access to the museum collection, including entry to The Return of the Past exhibition, and hear specially curated talks. Attendees can also purchase postmodern cocktails at our 80s themed bar.
Dress code: 80s nostalgia
Buildings in Focus: the story of 81-87 Weston Street
- 18 June 2018 7-8:15pm
Join Simon Allford and Roger Zogolovitch at Sir John Soane’s Museum to discuss 81-87 Weston Street, a contemporary mansion block designed for 21st century living in the heart of Southwark.
Recreating the informality of design development meetings between developer Zogolovitch (Solidspace) and architect Allford (Allford Hall Monaghan Morris), this talk brings the two together in conversation to explore how this carefully crafted building responds to and contributes to London’s vernacular. The talk will be chaired by Owen Hopkins, Senior Curator at Sir John Soane’s Museum, followed by a short Q&A and drinks reception. The evening will launch ‘Collected Volumes’ (Fifth Man), a new publication that tells the story of 81-87 Weston Street, featuring essays by Allford, Zogolovitch and writers Alan Powers, Hank Dittmar and Owen Hopkins.
81-87 Weston Street is the most recent iteration in a strand of thinking which has lasted almost fifteen years. Working within the constraints of urban brownfield plots and guided by a belief that, by placing volume at the centre of the design, living spaces which are modest in plan can become extraordinary in experience. Solidspace has explored split-section living across a range of building scales with a growing circle of architects. The building is the product of slow development, arrived at through an engaged and active dialogue between the commissioning client, Roger Zogolovitch and architect, Simon Allford. Ten years in the making has allowed the finished building to be crafted rather than constructed.
Tickets include a copy of ‘Collected Volumes’, access to Sir John Soane’s Museum after hours and drinks reception.
- Any age
Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
PA to Director
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020 7440 4251