Background to the OUTS project
A Project to Restore, Refurbish and Improve Sir John Soane's Museum
Opening Up The Soane (OUTS) is a £7 million project to restore, refurbish and improve Sir John Soane's Museum. As well as providing the Museum with much needed facilities to allow the Museum to flourish in the 21st Century, OUTS restores long lost features to public view for the first time in the Museum’s history, preserving the charm of this much loved institution for future generations.
One of the principal aims of OUTS is to return Soane's exquisite and intriguing private apartments to their former brilliance. After Soane's death, these richly decorated and typically idiosyncratic chambers were dismantled and pressed into services as offices and staff accommodation. Careful re-arrangement of these facilities across Numbers 12 and 14 will allow much greater public access to Number 13 than has ever before been possible, and also provide a much improved visitor experience with custom built facilities. The improved visitor circulation will reduce wear and tear on the house from our 110,000 visitors who come each year.
Work began on site in February 2011, when our contractors Fairhurst Ward Abbots began to clear the site. Preceding this, however, had been two years of work by our indefatigable house architects, Julian Harrap Architects. The First Phase of OUTS, open to the public from the 6th July, therefore represents the culmination of many years’ hard work on the part of a great number of people, who are to be congratulated.
This phase of work sees the creation of a new Exhibition Gallery and Conservation Studios on the first and second floors of Number 12. These exciting developments will allow us to preserve and display a much wider range of the Museum’s treasures than we have hitherto been able, whilst returning the atmosphere of the Soanes’ 1792 decorative pattern, painstakingly recreated from analysis of the surviving paint samples. Further improvements, such as a custom built shop and cloakroom in the basement of Number 12, remove much of the clutter from the crowded hallway of Number 13, and allow visitors to experience the thrill of entering Soane’s great Museum as nineteenth century visitors did. For the first time, a lift will provide much improved access to the Museum.
Phases II and III of the project will see the recreation of much of the original historic interior of Number 13, including Soane’s private apartments on the Second Floor of Number 13, and the provision of a research space providing greater interpretation of the Museum, and will be completed by 2015. In this, the 200th anniversary of the building of No.13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, however, we hope that you will agree that the Soane has just become an even better Museum, and celebrate the restoration of his first house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The following pages contain more details of the works undertaken, as does the special edition of our newsletter.