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Sir John Soane's Museum

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published May 7th 2011
Sir John Soane Museum
Sir John Soane Museum
One of my friends recently mentioned to me that they'd taken a date to the Sir John Soane Museum. I was surprised at this. The Soane Museum, as it's usually called, is definitely a fascinating place to go while away on an afternoon, but I wouldn't have called it romantic.

You will need to have a particular thing for drawings and models of Soane's projects, and fine examples of the man's taste in art and design – which is very well formed and to be admired, as he was a Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy. This is why, I now understand, my friend selected it, to quote him verbatim: "Lots of people say they appreciate art, but they have a very general appreciation, or else just what they'd call 'good taste', well, knowing what you like is all good, but here's a man who had a very sophisticated and educated opinion about art and design based on the fact that he was an architect of reasonable genius."

So I consider us told.

It looks more like a date venue in the evening
It looks more like a date venue in the evening
The museum is housed in Soane's home/s, which began as a single house on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and then spread to the adjacent two properties as he bought them up. Each time he purchased a property he demolished and rebuilt it to his own specs., and then made adjustments, inside and out, as and when the mood took him – it's as if his own homes were a Petri dish for his ideas - so the properties themselves could be considered part of the exhibit. While he was still alive he bequeathed his home, and the museum of his collection that he'd been accumulating, to the nation, to take effect when he died.

You could see this as a generous act or a spiteful one, as one of the reasons he took this decision was to stop his son, George, who he had a long standing feud with over debts and George's refusal to 'get a real job', from inheriting anything from him.

Some of the highlights of the museum are the way the light enters the rooms at the back of the house from the ceiling – this is how he did the lighting for the Bank of England, though in miniature - and the expanding walls in the Picture Gallery. Aside from the structure itself, his collection includes more than 30,000 architectural drawings, some of them originals from some of the world's most impressive buildings, a couple of Hogarths and three Canalettos.

If you're still not sure about this as a date choice, then for your information, my friend did take his date to one of the candlelit opening evenings, which are held on the first Tuesday of the month.
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Why? More cool and impressive and less geeky than you think it's gonna be
When: Tuesday to Saturday, 10-5pm
Where: Sir John Soane’s Museum, 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3BP, nearest station Holborn
Cost: Free
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