6 Nov 2013 12:00pm - 2:00pm CRASSH, Seminar room SG1, Ground floor


Housing Things: Reconstructing the Interiors of the Soane Museum and the Watts Gallery

Mr Tim Knox (Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
Housing Things: Reconstructing the Interiors of the Soane Museum

Dr Nick Tromans (Curator of the Watts Gallery)
Housing Things: Reconstructing the Interiors of the Watts Gallery


Tim Knox
Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, is the house and collections of the great Neoclassical architect, John Soane. Soane left it to the nation on his death in 1837, with strict instructions that nothing should be changed. However, almost as soon as he died, Soane's elaborate arrangements began to be dismantled and modified – sometimes for very necessary practical reasons, but also sometimes to answer the dictates of taste and decorum. Moreover, as the years elapsed, his decorative schemes were replaced, objects were rearranged, and the day to day needs of the Museum forced changes upon Soane's original vision. Tim Knox, former Director of Sir John Soane's Museum and current Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, discusses the gradual erosion of Soane's legacy, and its revival under a succession of post-War curators of the Museum. He concludes with an account of the Opening up the Soane project, conceived and begun under his own term as Director, which will return even more of the Museum to its exact appearance in 1837, as well as equipping it – in two neighbouring buildings – with the facilities that will enable the Soane Museum to survive into the twenty-first century and beyond.


Nick Tromans
The Watts Gallery at Compton near Guildford was found in 1904, the year of the death of George Frederic Watts, the Victorian painter of symbolic allegory and of portraits of the great figures of the age. In 2011 the Gallery reopened after a complete refurbishment, undertaken after its picturesque structures had reached a point of dangerous dilapidation. The Gallery has since been the focus of much attention on account of its success as a heritage story. This talk will examine the challenges faced by the Gallery during this period, as it sought to balance the demands of sustainability and of the health of the collection against the cherished legacy of a fragile, eccentric and unique environment


Open to all. No registration required.

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