London

“Retrace Your Steps: Remember Tomorrow”

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Sir John Soane’s regular guests share a deep affection for their long-dead host and become protective, even proprietary, about his remarkable home. Architectural historian William J.R. Curtis writes of each return visit as a measure of “what point one has reached, as if re-consulting an old friend.” The Soane Museum is a Wunderkammer, a labyrinthine treasure chest stuffed full of cast-plaster gargoyles and goddesses, crockets, cornices, and Corinthian capitals; trick walls that open and shut; built-in mirrors producing virtual vistas to infinity; tombs, sarcophagi—oh, and yes, a “monk’s parlor” complete with human skull. Like Victor Hugo’s Guernsey house or the Freud Museum, Hampstead, it’s not just one of the all-time great idiosyncratic interiors, but a living cultural laboratory where mental batteries may constantly be recharged.

On that basis, the Soane cries out for some form of

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 2000 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.