The quirky and unusual Sir John Soane's Museum in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields has grabbed a new distinction - it's the first national museum to offer free iPod tours of its exhibits.
The Sir John Soane's Museum - which is the world's most supreme surviving example of a house museum - is offering complete tours of its building and contents in this way.
Actors Eleanor Bron and Stephen Fry are the distinctive voices behind Sir John Soane's Museum's new free podtours. Both gave their time for free as they support the museum.
The two tours, one designed for older children (read by Bron) and one designed for adults (read by Fry), will enable visitors to explore this fascinating and idiosyncratic Georgian home room by room. The tours are available now for free download from the museum's website.
The museum is crammed with extraordinary objects and artefacts ranging from the ancient sarcophagus of Pharaoh Seti I and full-sized casts taken from the colossal columns supporting Roman temples to works by Hogarth, including the complete Rake's Progress series of paintings.
Famed thespian and Mac user, Stephen Fry describes the Soane as: "My favourite museum in London," adding: "You get this extraordinary sense of being inside the mind of Sir John Soane himself. It's as if you are going in and sitting in the company of an extraordinary, civilised, charming, witty man."
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Often described as the father of modern architecture, it's in-keeping with Sir John Soane's spirit that his unique house should be preserved as a learning resource that it is now easily accessible via the most modern of mediums - the internet.
Museum director Tim Knox said: "We have taken a very deliberate decision to embrace new technology because it is totally in sympathy with our founder's forward-thinking spirit. As well as using the podtours as a personal guide while exploring the Soane, visitors can also listen to them before they arrive or after their visit. Even those unable to visit us here in Lincoln's Inn Fields can use the tours to find out more about the museum and the man who created it."
The museum plans to add more podtours in the near future. Along with tours in other languages, the museum is currently developing plans for tours designed for the partially sighted; as a resource for schools and as a means to involve and engage the diverse local community.
The podtours are available now for free download.