John Soane’s Cabinet of Curiosities: Former Director Bruce Boucher launches his new book, Tuesday 18 June, 19.00

Regular price £15.00

Join former Director Bruce Boucher as he discusses his new book with Deputy Director Helen Dorey, an in-depth study that sheds a fascinating new light on Sir John Soanes and his world-renowned collection.
Sir John Soane’s architecture has enjoyed a revival of interest over the last seventy years, yet Soane as a collector—the strategy behind and motivation for Soane’s bequest to the nation—has remained largely unexplored. While Soane referred to the display of objects in his house and museum as “studies for my own mind,” he never explained what he meant by this, and the ambiguity surrounding his motivation remains perennially fascinating.
In this conversation with Helen Dorey, Bruce Boucher will examine key strands in Soane’s collection and what they reveal about the man and the psychology of collecting. They will examine themes including the display of antiquities; Soane’s fascination with ruins, both literal and figurative; his singular response to Gothic architecture; his investment in modern British painting and sculpture; and the ways in which his family and career informed his collecting habits. They will also analyse the challenges Soane faced of turning a private house and collection into a public museum.

About the speakers

Bruce Boucher is an art historian and curator who served as director of Sir John Soane’s Museum from 2016 to 2023. Specializing in Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-classical art and architecture, he is the author of a number of books, including The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino, Andrea Palladio: the Architect in his Time and Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from Donatello to Canova.

Regarded as one of the leading scholars of Sir John Soane,  Helen Dorey joined the Museum in 1986 and has been its Inspectress since 1995. She has published extensively on the Museum and its collections and has led numerous restoration projects within the Museum over 30 years, including the restoration of Soane’s private apartments. She is Chairman of the Scholarship Committee of the Attingham Trust and a member of its Council, a member of the National Trust’s Collections and Interpretation Panel, a Trustee of the Moggerhanger House Preservation Trust and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She was awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to heritage.

About the Event

Doors will open at 18.30 for a Museum viewing. The talk takes place in the Library Dining Room from 19.00, and will be followed at 20.00 by a drinks reception in the South Drawing Room on the first floor. Please enter via Number 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields where we will have a list of names on the door. Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107.

Image: detail of the Picture Room by J. M. Gandy from Sketches and Drawings/of the/House and Museum of J. Soane Esq RA, containing 125 numbered plans, elevations, sections and watercolour views of Sir John Soane's Museum, 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, and drawings of objects in the Museum, 1825-1836. SM vol. 82/90 

Close (esc)


Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now