London – Westminster (Borough of) – Wallace Collection

This is my first visit to the Wallace Collection in London, a free museum that’s a short walk away from Bond Street underground station. The collection was donated to the nation in 1897 and there are strong holdings of porcelain, armour and French art.

The booking process was all very easy and there was a friendly staff member at the entrance to the museum who was welcoming visitors and showing them where to go. This is a challenging location to open to the public at the moment as it’s a former residential property (albeit a grand one) which wasn’t really designed for this purpose. However, they’ve created a one-way system and limited numbers in each room, making it a fairly easy collection to navigate. There were plenty of staff members on the route and they seemed helpful and engaged.

There were numerous highlights, and I’ll write separately about some of these, but I was pleased to discover that the Laughing Cavalier is on display. Not that I’ve given much thought to where this artwork was actually located, I hadn’t expected it to be here. It’s not a huge collection compared to the national museums, but I was there for around an hour which seemed to be roughly how long people were generally staying for.

The museum is very well-reviewed with only a handful of negative comments and those are mostly related to the on-site cafe. One of the most ridiculous from last year is from someone with a large backpack who complained that they were asked to place it in a cloakroom, not an unreasonable request. They have closed the cloakroom at the moment, but visitors can carry reasonably sized bags around with them.

And the most ridiculous review of the lot:

“We went to the wallace collection and were roped into a tour. This consisted of an over enthusiastic older lady telling us about the paintings in depth and the story behind them.”

Hardly bad is it?

Anyway, all very lovely, especially as there’s no admission charge.