Views of the No.12 Interiors
The Soane Shop on the ground floor of No.12 was originally Soane’s dining room before he moved to No.13. The 1792 Pompeian red decorative scheme has been reinstated based on research carried out by historic paint consultants. The shop fittings were designed by Caruso St John and made by Goppion S.p.A.
Photograph: Lewis Bush
The Gallery for temporary exhibitions on the first floor of No.12 comprises of two rooms. The front room (image below) was originally Soane’s Drawing Room and the back room (second image below) was Mrs Soane's Bedroom. The Gallery cases in both rooms, also designed by Caruso St John and made by Goppion S.p.A, combine state-of-the-art technology with sleek Soanean detailing and tradtional materials, including mahogany veneer, Italian Walnut and mirror glass. The front room’s handsome 1790s paint scheme - Pompeian red combined with a sky ceiling and barred fictive harewood joinery - has been reinstated as has the orginal decorative scheme in the back room.
Photographs: Lewis Bush
The John A and Cynthia Fry Gunn Conservation Centre is located on the second floor of No.12 and comprises two rooms (the front conservation room is pictured below and the back room can be glimpsed through the open door to the right of the image). With over 45,000 works of art contained within Soane’s three houses - ranging from architectural drawings to mummified cats - these studios are crucial to ensuring that Soane’s collections can be properly cared for in the years ahead.
Photograph: Lewis Bush
The opening to the lift on the ground floor of No.12 is hidden behind a false bookcase. Although a lift shaft was installed in No.12 in 1969 when the Museum took back the house for its own use (it had been rented out since 1812-1813), the Museum has bever had a lift until now. The new lift opens on three sides on four floors, and is hidden behind original doors on all floors except at basement level where the door is new. It required virtually no changes to the fabric of the building. In conjunction with the platform lift outside in the front area of No.12, it makes the Museum more accessible than it has ever been before.
Photograph: Julian Harrap Architects
Apart from the lift, the greatest challenge the Museum faced during the restoration of No.12 was the restoration of its spectacular stone cantilevered staircase. The treads were seriously eroded and had been crudely repaired and propped over the years, weakening the structural integrity of each step. Several entire steps and landings as well as the indents of badly worn treads had to be replaced. The new stair carpet, inspired by 1790s designs, was created with the help of historic carpet specialist, Sue Stern, and made by D&S Bamford.
Photograph: Lewis Bush
In 1829 Soane created The Shakespeare Recess off the main stairs in No.13 in tribute to one of his great heroes. The space was reduced in depth as part of major building works undertaken by the then Curator James Wild in the 1890s. The Recess therefore required major construction work in order to restore both Soane’s original dimensions and the decorative elements including the marbled walls, the elaborate painted sunburst ceiling and the stained glass window.
Photograph: Stephen Astley
The Tivoli Recess, between the second and third floors of No.13 was, like the Shakespeare Recess directly below, originally a closet converted by Soane in 1829 into a small space paying tribute to his favourite Roman building, the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli near Rome - hence its name. However within a few years Soane converted the recess into a small gallery for neo-classical sculpture by his friends the sculptors, Banks, Chantrey and Flaxman. By 1918 the Recess had been converted into a staff lavatory - its contents re-located elsewhere in the Museum. As a result, not only did the Tivoli Recess have to be extended northwards by several feet – the most structurally challenging element of the restoration project - but the domed ceiling and skylights (removed in 1918), and all of its elaborate decorative plasterwork, including a sunburst ceiling flanked by spandrels featuring eagles fighting snakes, had to be entirely recreated.
Photograph: Derry Moore
Soane’s ‘Charity’ window is a replica of the Sir Joshua Reynolds designed window at New College Chapel, Oxford, which Soane commissioned from the glass painter William Collins in c.1829. The window was originally thought completely lost apart from one small section which had survived the bombing that destroyed the rest of the window in October 1940 during World War II. However in 2011 a sizable part of the window was serendipitously discovered in a store room and provided much vital information needed in order to create the replica window for the restored Tivoli Recess.