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In May, dependent on the Covid-19 reopening road map, Sir John Soan's Museum located on the second floor at number 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London will publically open.

The Museum has worked with conservation specialists Julian Harrap Architects since 2009 to fully reinstate its spaces, which began to be dismantled soon after Soane’s death. The project has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Monument Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, and many other individuals and organisations.

This extensive conservation and restoration work is part of the Museum’s long-term Opening up the Soane (OUTS) project. The newly completed second phase has been the most exciting and ambitious stage of the OUTS project. Visitors to the Museum will once again be able to explore Soane’s collections of models, drawings, watercolours and stained-glass as he intended. Until now, many items from these rooms have sat in storage away from public display.

In 1834, three years before his death, Soane decided to transform his wife Eliza’s bedroom, left preserved since her death in 1815, into his Model Room. The room featured a show-stopping custom-built central stand displaying some of Soane’s 121 architectural models, one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. Chief amongst these was an impressive cork model of the ruins of Pompeii, enriched and romanticised with other cork models of ruined Roman and Greek buildings placed upon it.

The Model Room and its impressive model stand was a miniature architectural museum in its own right. By 1835, it is thought that Soane would invite visitors to view the Model Room and Eliza’s Morning Room, and that they would probably be permitted a glimpse of the Bath Room through the door. This would have been intriguing for visitors, as Soane’s home was one of the very few town houses to have a bath room with a plumbed in hot water bath at the time. The Model Room and the entire second floor were altered after Soane’s death when they were converted into the Curator’s private living quarters. Based on detailed drawings, sketches and watercolours from the time, Julian Harrap Architects have been able to reinstate the rooms to their original condition. Extensive documentation from the Soane’s archives were also used for research including Soane’s original invoices, the Museum’s first inventories, from 1837, which list the contents of the rooms, curator’s diaries, photographs and much more. Some 40 models will be back on display in the room, including Parisian model-maker François Fouquet’s elegant white plaster models of antique buildings as they might have looked when first constructed; cork models of ancient ruins, often directly relating to the demise of the buildings immortalised in Fouquet’s creations; and the models made as part of Soane’s own architectural practice. The Museum’s model collection is not only a rare and important survival but is also of great significance from a contemporary point of view, demonstrating the pivotal role that model making plays in the architectural profession.

Soane’s model collection was also at the heart of his endeavour to ensure his Museum was a space for learning and inspiration, and architectural models continue to have that function today.

Soane’s Private Apartments and Model Room will reopen to the public from Tuesday 19 May 2021. Access is only available through pre-booking.

For more details about how to visit and to book, visit the Museum’s website:

www.soane.org

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