From an adventure to an usual museum focusing on one object to a museum rammed to the rafters, toe to top-full of the most amazingly mesmerizing artefacts, I do try and provide some variety. Can you guess what museum I’ve been adventuring to this time?
Take a gold star if you guessed the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Well done, top of the class!
One of my all-time favourite museums; the place is quite literally brimming over with stuff, with Soane’s joy of collecting singing out from every nook and cranny of the place. The museum guide book informs us that Soane turned part of his home into a museum in 1812 (making the place 201 years young this year) and in 1833 -through an Act of Parliament- he gave the museum to the nation and that it remain “as nearly as possible in the state in which he shall leave it.”
What A Short Description of Sir John Soane’s Museum doesn’t tell you is why Soane gifted his house/museum to Great Britain rather than ‘keeping it in the family.’ It transpires that although John had a legitimate heir (George Soane) but alas, this was no happy family…John and George enjoyed a “lifelong feud” due to the latter’s ever-increasing debts, failure to engage in trade and a marriage that wasn’t approved of (how scandalous!)
In response to this hostility George took to his pen and wrote an “anonymous, defamatory piece for the Sunday papers about Sir John, calling him a cheat, a charlatan and a copyist”.
So why did John Soane gift his house/museum ‘to the nation’? To stop his son from inheriting. Nice.
On with the Adventure!
This adventure, alas, did not get off to the best of starts. Although I didn’t have to queue to get in, I had to wait for the Greeter to get through a lengthy “Don’t Do this” list. Is a whole list of negatives really the best way to start off a visit? Is that the best way to make a good opening impression? Although the staff were friendly enough, my enthusiasm flagged a little bit after the quasi-lecture…
Once your through the door, you can get on with immersing yourself in the bonkers-ness of it all.
A room for an imaginary monk? Check
A tomb for a deceased pet? Check
A sarcophagus left abandoned on the steps of the British Museum? Check
But do you know what really captured my imagination, reader?
A statue of the the Ephesian Diana. I spent most of my visit staring at her and studying her. It has been ages since I was so enchanted by an object in a museum.
Every new angle threw up something new to marvel at; what are those globules hanging around her neck? A beautiful symbol of The Feminine maybe? Or coin purses perhaps?
Why does she have ‘winged females’ which look like the two-tailed mermaid from a famous coffee shop logo?
Reader, the fascination was endless. It reached a point where the guard kept throwing me odd looks.
It’s not like I was going to touch/steal/lick anything I swear…