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Beautiful and peaceful
Wallace Collection (London)
Member Name: caro
Wallace Collection (London)
Date: 15/08/00, updated on 29/11/00 (51 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting, peaceful
After years living in London, I finally visited the Wallace Collection this weekend, and am really glad I did. It's just a few streets directly behind Selfridges, on a peaceful garden square. The Collection is in Hertford House, which takes up most of the north side of the square. In its small front garden is a water fountain, copy of fountains donated to Paris. This sets the tone for the slightly quirky collection inside.
You can hire an audio guide, but even without this there are information sheets in each room. The art collection covers a wide range of paintings, the most famous of which is the Laughing Cavalier: one of a number of various genres and periods displayed in the Long Gallery on the first floor. This is a lovely, spacious room with plenty of seating so you can sit and appreciate the pictures at leisure. By the doors are sheets providing details of all the paintings.
The collection is not just paintings: there are waxes, sculptures, furniture, majolica, etc as well as a large collection of arms and armour. In addition, the house itself is lovely. More than simply a building housing a collection, most of its rooms have their own atmosphere. The internal courtyard has a cafe: this is lovely, and flooded with light, but quite expensive.
Don't overlook the basement, which has displays on the restoration of objects and some hands-on items for children. There are also rooms containing "overspill" items, and their somewhat higgledy-piggledy arrangement has its own charm.
One of the best things about the Wallace Collection is that it is very quiet compared to most London galleries and museums. The contrast with nearby Oxford Street is enormous. This is a very absorbing collection as well as a retreat from the crowds of central London.
There is also a shop, selling postcards, posters and books as well as some unusual gifts. Admission is free, and it's open every day from
10am to 5pm.
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