At Lincoln’s Inn Field , architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) built three townhouses between 1792 and 1824 to house his remarkable collection of antiquities and objects d’art. The Museum was established by a private Act of Parliament in 1833 The house was opened to the public after the architect’s death in 1837.
Today, the museum is best seen on first Tuesday evening of each month when it is lit by candlelight. In three years, after a £7 million restoration, Soane’s private apartments will be opened to view for the first time in 170 years. Soane was known for his original designs of internal spaces and lighting, and for incorporating shallow domes, segmental arches, and clerestories.
During the latter half of the 18th century (before the Napoleonic Wars), it was the custom of British collectors, painters and patrons to study antiquities of the ancient world during their Grand Tour of the Continent. The great collectors returned home laden with objects that they had acquired, most notably sculptures, gems, coins, vases, mosaics, paintings, and architectural fragments from such countries as Italy, Egypt, and Greece. These visitors, mostly gentlemen, also brought back their vast knowledge (and love) of classical architecture, which in turn influenced the Neoclassical buildings, interiors, and styles so popular during the Georgian and Regency eras.
Sir John Soane traveled to Italy between 1777 – 1780 to study architecture on a scholarship from the Royal Academy, and acquired his collection between the 1780s and his death in 1837. Among his designs are the Bank of England (now torn down), Dulwich College Art Gallery, and his own houses in Lincoln Fields Inn.
On his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806 Soane began to arrange the Books, casts and models in order that the students might have the benefit of easy access to them and proposed opening his house for the use of the Royal Academy students the day before and the day after each of his lectures. By 1827, when John Britton published the first description of the Museum, Soane’s collection was being referred to as an ‘Academy of Architecture’. – Sir John Soane’s Museum: Official Site