Soane’ing away

It’s was -3 degrees yesterday and colder than I’ve felt in a long time. And what better way than to spend it standing in a queue of over a 100 people trying to get inside Sir John Soane’s Museum.

Sir John Soane was an architect who designed this house to live in and also to store his vast collection of art and antiquities. After his death in 1837, the house became a museum and is visited by tourists, students, architects and art lovers from across the world. A few of the artists I recognized include JMW Turner, Raffaello and Samuel Bourne to name a few. And besides the collection, the design and architecture of the house with its arches and mirrors, is a sight to behold in itself.

If the above was a picture of yesterday, then I’m at the wrong end of the queue behind the last person you can see. And the only reason I decided to brave the cold is because on the first Tuesday of every month the Museum has a special candle lit opening from 6-9pm. This is an event not to be missed, even if you’ve already seen it in the day.

But it is safe to say that after my experience last night, I now have a list of what not to do when visiting the Museum. However this list should be preceded by my saying that the Museum is truly spectacular and magical. And despite the weather, you soon forget all your grumbles as you step through the doors to meet an architect’s and an art lover’s paradise.

  • When visiting on a candle lit evening, the Museum website advises you to get there before 5.30pm. They aren’t joking about this because when you reach there at 5.45pm, there are about 100 people queued up in front of you. And after the first 60 people get to go in, they have a one in one out policy which is not fun for those left outside. Especially if it’s cold or raining.

  • Don’t bother to take a camera because they don’t allow you to take photographs inside. You might be able to get special permission, but you need to organize that before hand. I was a bit disappointed about this, but I am grateful for the other bloggers and websites who made possible the images I have on here.

  • Don’t forget to visit the special viewing room where the paintings are displayed on movable panels specially designed by Sir John Soane. Looking at the detailing is a bit difficult at night amidst the shadows, but there are definitely a few pieces I want to go back to have another look at.

  • Don’t forget to also visit the Museum during the day. I think one’s experience is only complete after you have seen it both in the day and in candle light. In the former the stain glass and the colours give a completely different experience to the shadow play of the latter. And the charm of each is completely different. So give both a go, keeping in mind that weekends and the evenings are especially busy. More so in summer.

  • And lastly, there is nowhere to sit in the house. Filled as it is with beautiful furniture, it feels like an ideal place to have a sit down and contemplate the ghosts of the past. But on every sittable seat lying around the house is a nice prickly acorn lurking in wait. So do all the sitting you want outside the house, while you can.

The Sir John Soane’s Museum is currently being renovated and parts of the house are closed to the public. But even then what you get to see is more than enough to satisfy your curiosity. In any case, I’m glad we ventured to explore the Museum today. The cold made it that much more interesting and worth my while. But I’m definitely going back to look at it in the day light, and this time with permission to take photographs.

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