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The Sir John Soane Museum in London

A few years before his death in 1837, architect and collector Sir John Soane arranged for an act of Parliament to preserve his house as a free public museum. It’s a wonderfully hodgepodge collection of ancient sculpture, paintings by Turner, Reynolds, and Hogarth (including the original A Rake’s Progress series), architectural remnants, and Cantonese furniture.

In the crypt-like (but well-lit) basement sits one of the collection's pride pieces, the Egyptian sarcophagus of Seti I, which Soane delighted in having snatched from right under the British Museum's collective nose after they, not realizing what it was, passed on buying it when it arrived in England and they were offered first dibs.

Everything is exactly as Soane left it, from the parlor’s trompe-l’oeil ceiling “arbor,” to the cardinal directions stenciled above room doorways, to the brilliant orange-red walls (supposedly matched from an ancient paint chip Soane pilfered in Pompeii).

13 Lincoln's Inn Fields
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Intrepid Travel

This article was last updated in May 2007. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2010 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.