2 August 2012

Sir John Soane's Museum is bonkers

Sir John Soane's Museum is yet another one of those places that I have been meaning to go to for donkey's years and it took a day's holiday in London to finally do so.

The Museum is on the top-side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, a pretty enough location, and that is just south of Holborn where I worked for a couple of years on a project for BT waaay back in the late eighties.

Outside it looks like all the other houses on the square but inside it is completely bonkers.

There are lots of small rooms that are ridiculously stuffed full of arcane artifacts from Sir John Soane's personal collection.

The contrast with the Wallace Collection that I saw a couple of days before could not be more marked. There the rooms were large, laid out simply and almost empty but here they were small like a toddler's bedroom, arranged like a toddler's Lego bricks and stuffed like a toddler's toy box.

The poster above gives you an idea of what to expect, it is exactly like that. It is so hard to weave through some of the rooms that all bags must be either handed in or put inside a plastic bag to stop sharp corners from doing damage.

The picture gallery was a particular favourite. There are several large canvasses but as this is a small room they are not on the walls, instead they are housed in a large display like those often used for railway timetables so you can only see one at a time.

Sadly photography is not allowed in the house (I can see why) and it is heavily policed so there was no opportunity to bend the rules.

The Museum is going through a restoration programme that is both restoring the original rooms and also creating some new spaces.

In one of these new spaces is an exhibition called Stadia: Sport and Vision in Architecture.

The similar exhibition that I saw at RIBA earlier was on this year's stadia whereas this one (mostly) covered old stadia including, for example, Roman Arenas and Spanish Bullrings.

This exhibition is sponsored by Populous so we get the now familiar exploding view of their stadium for London 2012.

The contrast between the two exhibitions suits me (they  may claim an architectural link but that is tenuous) as I love variety and surprises. The Museum provides both.

Sir John Soane's Museum feels like somebody has tried to recreate the V&A in a private house. And that is most definitely a good thing.

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