The Soane Museum Study Group is an open forum for scholars – both established and emerging – to present new research into an aspect of architectural history and/or Soane’s collection.
Upon Inspection: Soane, Dulwich and 200 years of England’s First Purpose Built Public Art Gallery
A talk by Lettie Mckie
Sir John Soane’s design for Dulwich Picture Gallery (1811-1817) is a shining early example of how a museum’s architecture meets the needs of its public. Since it first opened in 1817 the Gallery has been a place of pilgrimage for those who have delighted in its tranquillity and marvelled at its extraordinary Mausoleum. Envisaged by its founders, Sir Francis Bourgeois and his friends Noel and Margaret Desenfans, as a place of artistic education and inspiration, it was famously the first purpose-built space in England where the public could experience fine art. In its influential design Soane combined top lighting with an enfilade, to create a building that has often been celebrated as the ideal space for viewing art. Its founders, believing passionately in the nations’ need for new arts institutions, wished to see the collection kept intact after their deaths and subsequently this ambition was achieved when Bourgeois chose to bequeath the paintings to Dulwich College in his will ‘for the inspection of the public’. In this lecture Lettie Mckie will consider how, as this public audience changed dramatically over its 200-year history, the Architecture of Soane’s Gallery has been adapted to meet its needs.
About the speaker
Lettie Mckie has an MA in Architectural History from UCL’s The Bartlett School of Architecture. She is Adult Programme Manager at the National Portrait Gallery. She previously worked at the Sir John Soane’s Museum from 2021-2023 as Learning Manager.
Tuesday 5 December 2023, 6.00pm drinks, 6.30pm talk.
On arrival, please come to no. 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The door will be staffed from 6.00pm.