Over the last twenty years, Sir John Soane’s Museum has changed from an obscure but much-loved ‘hidden gem’ to a cult museum, a highly inspirational place to visit that is mentioned in every guidebook to London and attracts tens of thousands of visitors from the UK and all over the world every year.
The Museum now welcomes over 90,000 visitors per annum – almost the same number as Petworth House in Sussex, which is at least six times the size. They visit the Museum free of charge, just as Soane wished, but inevitably cause a corresponding amount of wear and tear on its fabric and contents. For comparison, there were about 10,000 visitors per annum in the 1950s, 20,000 p.a. in 1970 and 30,000 p.a. in 1980.