Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

So Soane So Soon

September 4, 2009 · 1 Comment

After stepping off the Holborn tube stop, we followed the signs to the Sir John Museum and almost passed it on the street. It fits in so well with its neighboring houses that we nearly passed it. The only difference between the museum and the neighboring homes were two signs, one by the door and one on the gate. It’s set in a picturesque neighborhood across from Lincoln Inn Fields. The museum is a monument to Sir John, a premier British architect, from Sir John, a premier British architect. Sir John decided that instead of leaving his home and belongings to his children, he would create a museum that would house his eclectic collection of sculptures, paintings, and tchockes. While interesting and brief, the museum was almost confusing in layout and design of exhibitions. We understand that the layout is based on the three houses that he combined to create his home, but the exhibitions seemed to be crammed into whatever corner they might fit. Example, large stone sculptures over two stories tall in a hole in the ground floor to the basement. It was just a bit confusing trying to understand the collections left by Sir John, while at the same time being surprised by how the exhibitions were presented. Many times, we found ourselves considering how the exhibition fit into a particular room instead of how that part of the collection reflected on Sir John. Also the museum wasn’t so much a reflection on Sir John’s work rather than a convenient way to showcase his eccentricities in the form of artifacts from places other than Britain. The collections themselves were not very well presented and there was very little in the way of an explanation. The only guide was a 2 quid pamphlet offered at the main door; unfortunately we are cheap college students, so we went without the pamphlet to find our own path. Normally forging your own path in a museum is enjoyable, but within such a small and poorly laid out museum it was more of a hardship than a joy. We enjoyed the architecture of the house and that a piece of such beautiful architecture and love is so well maintained and that it was so beautifully repaired after sustaining enemy fire in 1941. However, except for its brevity, it just wasn’t the museum for us.

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1 response so far ↓

  •   kstaab77 // Sep 5th 2009 at 11:00

    I completely agree with your statement about the museum being “a convienent way to showcase [Soane’s] eccentricities in the form of artifacts from places other than Britain.” The vibe I got when touring the collection was very disjointed and claustrophobic. The hallways were small and poorly lit and what felt like every square inch of wall and ceiling space was covered with fragments of monuments or stone heads. I also agree with you on your point about the museum lacking any good free information about the rooms. There was the occasional sign, but they rarely explained more than the bare minimum about a specific room or item.

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