Exhibition Review: Sir John Soane’s Museum

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Looking at the past, what now seems like utopia.


During Soane’s lifetime he constantly tinkered with the arrangement of his objects and the surrounding physical spaces, resulting in series of architectural experiments and innovative systems for displays. It is often the purposeful juxtaposition of objects, and the dialogue that emerges between them – rather than the attributes of individual object in isolation – that provides the most compelling aspects of Soane’s collection. Each of the rooms can be considered as works of art in their own right. It is therefore no surprise to learn that Soane left strict instructions that these arrangements of objects and space should be preserved exactly as he left them. Therefore the museum represents a unique survival – a relatively intact house and collection formed by on of the greatest architect of the Regency era.


What stood out to me was the watercolour painting ‘Vision of early fancy…. and dreams in the evening of life’ which was done by J M Gandy.  A view of the exterior interior of the National Debt Redemption and Life Annuities Office in the Old Jewry, erected 1818.

The painting room was build in 1824, when Soane was 71, and thus illustrates the last phase of his style.

Looking at the past, what now seems like utopia. Is what this exhibition is all about to me, its not looking at the past anymore it looking at utopia, looking for something extraordinary from what our past was about. Ancient is narrated throughout the exhibition what looks like – an untouched gold, perhaps it’s reminded of the value and the years the pieces of painting or sculptures have been displayed.  Yet, the exhibition is somehow overcrowded and some areas empty but works astonishingly with the curation Sir John Soane left it in. It’s like walking through era of time. 

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