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
Hogarth: Place and Progress
- 9 October 2019 — 5 January 2020 *on now
All of Hogarth's surviving painted series will be united for the first time to examine his complex views on morality, the society and the city.
The darkly satirical series of William Hogarth (1697-1764) have an enduring appeal today. Cutting through social conventions, they present with wit and humour the immorality and vice that Hogarth perceived in all classes of society.
Hogarth: Place and Progress will unite all of Hogarth's surviving painted series for the first time, along with his engraved series. The Museum’s own Rake’s Progress and An Election will be joined by Marriage A-la-Mode from the National Gallery, the Four Times of Day from the National Trust and a private collection, as well as the three surviving paintings of The Happy Marriage from Tate and the Royal Cornwall Museum. The exhibition will also include engraved series lent by Andrew Edmunds prints such as The Four Stages of Cruelty, Industry and Idleness and Gin Lane and Beer Street.
Hogarth's narratives present a satirical take on the idea of 'progress'. The principal characters flout conventional morality and so progress not towards spiritual enlightenment but to poverty, madness and death. London settings, still identifiable today, play a key role in these cautionary tales: in A Rake’s Progress, the Rake's initial progression from the mercantile City of London to an extravagant West End mansion spirals to a brothel in Covent Garden, then ultimately to insanity and death in Bedlam madhouse, as a consequence of his dissolute lifestyle.
Displayed across the backdrop of Sir John Soane’s Museum, the exhibition will demonstrate how Hogarth’s ‘Modern Moral Subjects’ married the idea of progress with the moral geography of London, in a dynamic and evolving way throughout his own progress as an artist.
- Family friendly
Highlights and Private Apartments Tour
- 1 March — 29 December 2019 *on now
Our Highlights and Private Apartments Tour will transport you back to Regency London, taking you through Sir John Soane’s extraordinary home, left as it was at the time of his death in 1837.
Explore some of the most spectacular rooms in the Museum, and our most famous and beautiful treasures, including paintings by Canaletto and J.M.W. Turner, a 3,000 year-old Egyptian sarcophagus, and William Hogarth’s A Rake’s Progress. The tour includes a visit to the Private Apartments, where Soane's extraordinary Model Room can be found.
Tours last one hour and are led by our expert guides. There are 8 places per tour.
Saturdays 11:00 and 12:00
Sundays 11:00 and 12:00
Sir John Soane's Museum
13 Lincoln's Inn Fields