Sir John Sloane Museum and Hyde Park
Trip Start Dec 01, 2008
43Trip End May 21, 2009
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If you aren't looking for the John Sloane museum, you'll never find it. It's one of the houses surrounding the fields and the sign is small and discreet.
Once you find it, don't get discouraged by the seemingly weird behaviour and demands of the guy at the door. Basically, there's always a small queue, despite the museum looking fairly empty. Then, he makes you put everything you have in a clear plastic bag to carry with you. You can't take photographs...you can't do anything. It's very...museum...ish. But once you are inside you start to understand why.
The Sir John Sloane's museum is referred to as the world's greatest "house museum." A house museum is someone's house which they open up to the public. The difference with this museum is that the house was set up as a museum and not a house. I hope that makes sense.
Sir John Sloane was one of the early enthusiasts for public museums and art history. He was an architect by trade and bought a series of houses by Lincoln Inn Field's. He basically completely redesigned them. Therefore, the architecture of the house serves as a teaching tool for students and his own collection of art was arranged in such a way to teach students the proper way to display in a museum. It's a pretty strange house filled with a very strange variety of things. There's probably something to interest everyone.
One cool thing was a model of the tomb he designed for his wife. In those days, the rich often built larger monument type structures. Anyways, when you look at the model, it's pretty obvious that it was the inspiration for the stereotypical London telephone booths!
Otherwise, the museum is filled with tons of Roman plaster casts, various paintings and tons and tons of books. Right now, it is spread around 3 floors. The intent of the museum is to arrange the house exactly as when he lived there. Today, however, two floors are closed off. By 2012, the museum hopes to expand. Sir John Sloane, being the slightly crazy anal retentive guy he was, made sketches of all the rooms in his house. With these sketches, the museum hopes to move all the items into their original spaces as well as opening up the top two floors. If they accomplish this, it really will be the greatest house museum in the world as it will be a museum filled with artifacts but also be presented in exactly the same way as it was in the owner's day.
After that, I went to Primark, spend too much money as usual, and took a walk in Hyde Park. Hyde Park was a bit bigger than I'd imagined so I didn't go through the whole thing. I did see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and the Prince Albert Memorial Gate. Flip through the pictures to see some of Hyde Park. The Princess Diana Fountain was pretty hard to get a picture of. You'll see why when you see the pictures.