Not seen by the public for over 160 years, Sir John Soane's Museum revealed architect Soane's fully restored private apartments and Model Room in London in mid-May. The space, which includes Soane’s Model Room, Bedroom, Bathroom, Book Passage, Oratory and Mrs. Soane’s Morning Room, was restored by the museum along with conservation specialists Julian Harrap Architects. As part of the museum's long-term project, Opening Up the Soane, or OUTS, visitors are now welcome to discover Soane’s collections of models, drawings, watercolors and stained-glass as he had originally intended.
China arrangement above the mantelpiece in Soane's Bath Room
Soane’s Model Room was originally his wife’s bedroom, but it was transformed by Soane three years prior to his death into a virtual model museum, with space for his 121 architectural models displayed on a custom-built stand—among them, a cork model of the ruins of Pompeii. (Also of interest and located near the Model Room is Soane's Bath Room, which was one of the earliest townhouses in the area to feature hot-water bathing.)
The Model Room with the Model Stand at left
After Soane's death, the Model Room and the rest of the second floor were converted into the museum curator's living quarters. For the OUTS project, conservators returned these rooms to their original state, working not just with drawings, watercolors and sketches but also invoices, inventories and archives from Soane's time. About 40 models are on exhibit throughout the space, including model-maker François Fouquet’s white plaster models of antique buildings, cork models of Greek and Roman ruins, and models of Soane’s own work. In tandem with the rooms' reopening, the museum has launched its Adopt-a-Model initiative, which aims to raise a £25 million endowment by 2025 in part by "adopting" out models in 10-year increments.
The Private Apartments and Model Room are open to the public and are reservation-only. Learn more here.
Mrs. Soane's Morning room; bookcase and chimney piece inside Model Room