When I first laid eyes on the interior of the Royal Society building on Carlton House Terrace, I was immediately struck by the opulent and varied architectural details throughout the ground and first floors. Cherubs painted on the ceiling in the (former) library reading room, floor-to-ceiling marble in the Marble Hall (aptly named), giant black pillars in the lobby… the wonders just go on and on.

 

The Marble Hall

 

Because of this, Open House Weekend is my favourite event of the calendar. For the sixth year running, we’re taking part in Open House London, an architectural festival which opens the doors of buildings around London not usually accessible to the public, and we’ll be welcoming visitors on both the Saturday and Sunday, 19 and 20 September.

Have you ever wondered what the inside of the Royal Society building looks like? Or the history behind some of the quirkier architectural details around the place? Come down for a look around, and hear tall tales of beatnik squatters and the true story behind Giro, the supposed ‘Nazi dog’.

Comprising four individual Nash houses now joined together, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace has a rich history, with plenty of myths and stories collected over the years. We’ll be offering guided architectural tours every 20 minutes, led by the superb staff on our Library and Archives team, as well as self-guiding tour maps.

 

The ceiling of the Presidents’ Staircase in number 6

 

For those of you who lament the loss of the library’s Lunchtime Lectures, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re bringing back the series for this weekend. Throughout Saturday and Sunday, there will be eight talks shedding light on a wide variety of topics in the history of science. Details of the talks and a schedule can be found here [PDF].

Additionally, visitors have the chance to peruse our exhibition, Seeing closer: 350 years of microscopy. In celebration of the 350th anniversary of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia and its iconic depiction of a flea, this tells the story of the evolution of the microscope, from Leeuwenhoek’s simple single-lens instrument to modern-day electron microscopy. Highlighted with sumptuous illustrations, it’s a must-see.

So grab a friend and come spend some time with us exploring history, from very small insects all the way to very grand interiors.

 

The staircase in number 8

 

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