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Concerning the house museum and the picturesque landscape in the work of Sir John Soane : with raw hints for post-heritage museum space

By Gini Lee


The picturesque aesthetic in the work of Sir John Soane, architect and collector, resonates in the major work of his very personal practice – the development of his house museum, now the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. Soane was actively involved with the debates, practices and proponents of picturesque and classical practices in architecture and landscape and his lectures reveal these influences in the making of The Soane, which was built to contain and present diverse collections of classical and contemporary art and architecture alongside scavenged curiosities. The Soane Museum has been described as a picturesque landscape, where a pictorial style, together with a carefully defined itinerary, has resulted in the ‘apotheosis of the Picturesque interior’. Soane also experimented with making mock ruinscapes within gardens, which led him to construct faux architectures alluding to archaeological practices based upon the ruin and the fragment. These ideas framed the making of interior landscapes expressed through spatial juxtapositions of room and corridor furnished with the collected object that characterise The Soane Museum.\ud \ud This paper is a personal journey through the Museum which describes and then reviews aspects of Soane’s work in the context of contemporary theories on ‘new’ museology. It describes the underpinning picturesque practices that Soane employed to exceed the boundaries between interior and exterior landscapes and the collection. It then applies particular picturesque principles drawn from visiting The Soane to a speculative project for a house/landscape museum for the Oratunga historic property in outback South Australia, where the often, normalising effects of conservation practices are reviewed using minimal architectural intervention through a celebration of ruinous states

Topics: 120103 Architectural History and Theory, 120102 Architectural Heritage and Conservation, 210204 Museum Studies, museum, picturesque, collection, theory
Publisher: The Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Year: 2007
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