Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

Sir John Soane’s Museum – Virtual Tour

Sir John Soane's Museum - Virtual Tour

Sir John Soane’s Museum – Virtual Tour

The Sir John Soane’s Museum is a house museum that was formerly the home of the neo-classical architect John Soane. It holds drawings and models of Soane’s projects and his collections of paintings, drawings, and antiquities.

Soane’s House and Museum

Soane developed his house by demolishing and rebuilding three houses in succession on the north side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

He began with No. 12, between 1792 and 1794, which externally was a plain brick house. In 1806, Soane purchased No. 13, the house next door, which today is the museum, and rebuilt.

In 1808–09, Soane constructed his drawing office and “museum” on the site of the former stable block at the back.

In 1812 he rebuilt the front part of the site, adding a projecting Portland Stone façade to the basement, ground and first floor levels, and the center bay of the second floor.

After completing No.13, Soane set about treating the building as an architectural laboratory, continually remodeling the interiors.

In 1823, when he was over 70, he purchased a third house, No. 14, which he rebuilt in 1823–24. This project allowed him to build a picture gallery, linked to No.13, on the former stable block of No. 14.

The front central part of this third house was treated as a separate dwelling and let as an investment; it was not internally connected to the other buildings.

When he died, No. 14 was bequeathed to his family and passed out of the museum’s ownership.

Sir John Soane's Museum - Virtual Tour

View in Venice, on the Grand Canal (Riva degli Schiavoni) by Canaletto, 1734 –1735

A Private Act of Parliament

The museum was established during Soane’s lifetime by a Private Act of Parliament in 1833, which took effect on Soane’s death in 1837. 

The Act of Parliament was necessary because Sir John had a living direct male heir, his son George, with whom he had had a lifelong feud due to George’s debts, refusal to engage in a trade, and his marriage, of which Sir John disapproved.

His son also wrote an anonymous article for the Sunday papers about Sir John, which was highly defamatory.

Since under inheritance law, George would have been able to lay claim to Sir John’s property on his death, Sir John engaged in a lengthy parliamentary campaign to disinherit his son via a private Act.

The Soane Museum Act was passed in April 1833 and stipulated that on Soane’s death, his house and collections would move into the care of a Board of Trustees, on behalf of the nation.

The Act required that No. 13 be maintained “as nearly as possible” as it was left at the time of Soane’s death, and that has mostly been done.

During 1890 the rear rooms of No. 12 were connected to the museum in No. 13. and since 1995, the ‘Soane Gallery’ for temporary exhibitions was established.

The museum’s trustees remained utterly independent, relying only on Soane’s original endowment, until 1947. After 1947, the museum has been receiving an annual Grant-in-Aid from the British Government.

Sir John Soane's Museum - Virtual Tour

The Murder of Aristobulus III, miniature taken from an edition of Jewish Antiquities and Jewish War by Flavius Josephus

Sir John Soane’s Museum Collections

Sir John Soane’s Museum Collections include:

  • Antiquities, Medieval and non-western Artifacts
  • Sculpture
  • Paintings and drawings
  • Architectural drawings and architectural models

Highlights of the Sir John Soane’s Museum

  • Soane Museum Gallery
  • The Sarcophagus Room
  • The Sculpture Collection
  • Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus by Joshua Reynolds, 1788
  • The Humour of an Election‎ by William Hogarth
  • A Rake’s Progress‎ by William Hogarth

Sir John Soane's Museum - Virtual Tour

A siege of the fifteenth century, from a manuscript belonging to Edward IV, 15th century

Sir John Soane’s Museum

  • Museum:       Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • City:              London
  • Country:       United Kingdom
  • Established:  1837
  • Type:             Historic House Museum
  • Location:      13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, UK

Sir John Soane’s Museum – Map

Sir John Soane’s Museum – 360 Views

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s Museum


“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”
– Bertrand Russell


Photo Credit: JOM; Canaletto / Public domain; Master of the Soane Josephus / Public domain

Popular this Week

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites - Virtual Tours
Japanese Proverbs, Quotes, and Sayings
Ancient Artifacts - Virtual Tour
Greek Proverbs, Quotes, and Sayings
Mesopotamian Art and Artifacts - Virtual Tour
Mission San José - Virtual Tour
Law Code of Hammurabi
Korean Proverbs, Quotes, and Sayings
Russian Proverbs and Quotes
Mexican Proverbs, Quotes, and Sayings