Art Outside the Box: Sir John Soane's Museum

Museums aren't the only place where you can check out the masterpieces. Here's our series guide to seeing the arts...for free.
Sir John Soane Museum facade
Image: OZinOH.

One of my favorite ways to view art is in a house museum, a collection of art that is in the home of it's original owner instead of a museum. The home itself can often be a treat with original furnishings and period decor. More importantly, you get the privilege of seeing art on a real scale, as it was meant to be displayed. Instead of seeing art in a sterile white box, you get a unique and highly personal display of a collector's treasures. The next time you're heading to a new city, don't overlook a house museum.

This week's freebie...the Sir John Soane's Museum in London.
red room at Sir John Soane Museum

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was an English architect who built in the Neo-Classical style, his most famous work being the Bank of England. He also was an avid art collector and amassed a huge collection of art and antiquities, which he displayed in his home in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London.

Sir John Soane Museum ceiling
Image: Barbara Rich.

He filled his home with prints, paintings and sculpture, all of which you can see, as he displayed it while you wander through the rooms of his home.

stairway Sir John Soane Museum

A true collector, he left not one spot on his walls uncovered. You could spend hours taking in all of the sculpture and get a peek into the life of a quirky 19th century collector. Check out the virtual tour to get a feel for the sheer volume for yourself.

stone head Sir John Soane Museum
Image: Barbara Rich.

His collection also contains thousands of architectural drawings, prints, and paintings, including William Hogarth's series A Rake's Progress, as well as a few vedute paintings (translated loosely as vistas) by the Venetian Canaletto.

How To Visit:
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-5pm and is completely free. If you'd like a guided tour it will set you back a few pounds, but this is a fun place to wander around and discover on your own. They even have free audio tours you can download before you go.

Related Posts:
Art Outside the Box: Library of Congress
Art Outside the Box: Public Art in Seattle


I absolutely LOVE the Soane house! It is just like a labyrinth where you could get lost for hours.
For the next trip to London I would suggest a visit to the Foundling Museum, ('s not free but definitely worth the 5£