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currence. In the first place, this plan proposes to occupy twice as much of the court in height, and four times as much in area, as even Mr. Fergusson's proposition. In fact, the height is to be, in the centre, the full height of the existing buildings; and the utter obscuration of the principal and lower floors is only, and still imperfectly, obviated by sloping off the central mass into four circles of gradually diminishing cupola-roofs, supported on iron pillars, and all-centre and circles-partaking of the arabesque character-so that the published design looks as if a gigantic birdcage were to be let down into the Court of the Museum. We need say nothing of the ridiculous incongruity of architectural aspects implied in such a design. The disposal of the area seems, if possible, worse. It occupies the whole surface of the court, except a 'cartway 8 feet wide,' which is to be preserved all round between the new and the old building. A cartway!-where by no possibility could any cart ever arrive any more than into the choir of St. Paul's. This pretended cartway seems to us no more than a device to conceal one of the radical defects of the whole scheme-namely, the further darkening the lower story; but 8 feet is but a miserable compensation for the total area of which it is to be deprived. For the same purpose of preserving some degree, not of the light, but of the darkness visible' of the lower floor, this plan breaks up the surface of the area into three or four levels.

We wish we could have exhibited a copy of this singular design, but, besides the strange deficiency of a scale to work by, which the Blue Book does not afford us, the birdcage itself is of such minute and complicated construction that it could not be intelligibly copied within the size of our page. If ever executed, we venture to predict that the montrosity will excite more surprise than all the sphinxes of Egypt or the winged bulls of Nineveh.

In short, architecturally considered, this scheme seems infinitely the most exceptionable of any we have ever seen; but it nevertheless was, as we understand the papers, so warmly adopted by the Trustees, that on the 5th of June last-the very day the plans bear date-they transmitted them to the Treasury, with an urgent request that the Government should obtain from Parliament, before the close of the then far-advanced Session, the means of commencing the works (p. 34). The Government did not, and no Government, we trust, ever will, sanction any such scheme, modestly estimated at 56,0001.

We therefore consider all the plans yet produced for the utilization of the central court as not merely indefensible on the score of good taste, but altogether inadequate to the general difficulties of the case, and likely to leave in every department-except that of


the printed books-as much reasonable cause of complaint as now exists.

What then is to be done? Are we to purchase-according to an alternative plan also submitted to the Treasury by the Trustees and Mr. Smirke-one whole side of Montague-street, consisting of twelve houses, and half a side of Russell-square, over which we are to extend some additional offsets of the Museum?—a scheme that, it is obvious from the plan in the Parliamentary papers, of which the following is a reduced sketch, must

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inevitably lead to the future purchase and appropriation to the Museum of half Montague-place, half Charlotte-street, part of Great Russell-street, and one whole side of Bedford-square.

In this sketch the Museum building as originally designed is marked by the strong black line, the recent additions are slightly shaded. On the original plan the street houses are individually delineated and numbered as follows:

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Of these it is proposed to purchase those in Montague Street and Russell Square immediately, or perhaps in some kind of succession. The explanatory letter of the Trustees, which would explain this point, is not given; but it is clear from the general context of the papers, and the very significant features of the plan itself, and indeed, we may add, from the reason of the case, that-if this proposal of pushing the additions to the Museum into Montague Street and Russell Square be adopted-all the rest must follow ;-and it is evident that in the possibility of any such design it would be absolutely necessary (unless we mean to be the victims of still greater blunders, difficulties, and expense) that whatever should be now done in Montague Street and Russell Square should be part of a general plan-including the eventual possession of about seventy first and second rate houses, of which the eighteen wanted for more immediate use are estimated at 67,000l.; so that the whole of the extended site may be estimated at little or nothing short of 300,000/

Before we make the first step towards a design which must incur so great, and may eventually lead to such an enormous expense, we should look carefully to see whether some expedient of less difficulty and magnitude may not suffice for our present embarrassments; and we are glad to be able to that there appears say at hand, and quite within reach, a very simple, effectual, and comparatively cheap and easy remedy-or at least an important palliative for much the greater part of the real difficulties and imperfections of the case, and even of those more exaggerated and captious complaints made by that fault-finding class who, like honest Iago, are nothing if not critical. That remedy, in a word, is covering the whole court with a GLASS ROOF-and thus obtaining at once, without purchase, without brick and


mortar, with little or no disturbance even of the current service, 72,000 square feet of floor;-to say (for the present) nothing of its walls-infinitely better suited for the most cumbrous and extensive department of the Museum-the Egyptian and Oriental antiquities-than their present much criticised locality.

We need not, we presume, trouble ourselves with any details on the practicability of constructing such a roof, nor of its sufficient transmission of light. The Crystal Palace has settled all such questions. We believe that even the success of that grand experiment is about to be surpassed at Sydenham; -but even if no better be done, the light that answered for the exhibition of enamelled miniatures and filagree trinkets will more than suffice for the colossal monuments of Egypt, Lycia, and Assyria. On the less prominent but equally essential points of providing for ventilation, and for cleaning and repairing such a roof, there can be no more difficulty than at the Crystal Palace-not so much-as this roof will be more accessible, and the constructor will, of course, suit the frame-work to the more permanent character of the work, and its more especial objects. We purposely abstain from details:but we believe that the loss of light by mere transmission through good glass is imperceptible:-no doubt there would be some from the framing of the roof-but we are inclined to think that even that would be compensated by the difference between the colour of the Portland stone in a dry warm interior, and that dingy shade under which it now appears in the open London atmosphere. We may add also that Messrs. Panizzi and Smirke's plans propose to cover very nearly the same surface with glass, and Mr. Smirke's plans for chimney-flues, ventilation, and the like internal arrangements, are equally applicable to our proposal. In short, it is evident that there can be no material or constructive impediment to the adoption of this proposition. When Michael Angelo conceived the idea of lifting the Pantheon into the skies, his success might well have been doubted; but after the dome of St. Peter's had stood a century, nobody despaired of Sir Christopher Wren's design for St. Paul's. And so we who saw the height of forest-trees and the spread of eighteen acres of ground covered with glass in Hyde Park, can have no doubt that the court of the Museum can be converted into a glass-roofed hall. We now proceed to offer some

* One of Mr. Panizzi's preferences for Mr. Smirke's plan is, that it affords such early relief-but it seems probable that ours would be much sooner ready-particularly as it is proposed to encircle the birdcage with a solid brick wall 16 feet high, between it and the main building, which would, we surmise, take at least thrice as long in drying as the construction of the glass roof.


of the more general and more prominent advantages of this proposition.

1. Whatever of beauty or grandeur there may be in the architecture of the court would be preserved-for the glass roof would be above, and independent of, all its architectural aspects. In fact it would be an artificial sky.

2. On the other hand, those who think it severe and nakedand the whole world who see it at present entirely vacantwould find those objections obviated by its being filled with objects of interest, for which even the severity of its architectural forms must seem peculiarly appropriate.


3. All those gigantic sculptures now incongruously shut up, and, as the critics tell us, imperfectly lighted, in decorated rooms and closets,' like lions and elephants in booths at a fair, would be brought out into their natural light, ranged in avenues and aisles, and thus restored to something approaching to the effect which they were originally intended to produce. We might hesitate as to placing the Townley collection and other smaller sculptures in the great court-but we may venture to appeal to Mr. Vaux's useful and instructive Handbook, whether nine-tenths, in dimensions, of the sculptures would not be as well, if not better, placed in that more expanded and better lighted position.

4. The four façades of the court, so criticised for their useless cost and invisible pretensions, would assume a different aspect, and afford appropriate terminations to the avenues of sculpture that would intersect the court. This seems so fortunate, we had almost said so natural, that we might suppose that Sir Robert Smirke had originally designed some such application of the court-of course he never thought of a glass roof, but he may have imagined that some of the larger and weather-braving antiquities might be so disposed.

5. The access to the library and reading-rooms, the most frequented and most important portion of the institution, instead of being, as at present, in a remote, dark, and even dirty external corner of the premises, would be at once through the great entrance, across the great hall, and thence across the court, through the magnificent avenue of ancient sculptures. Whatever be the value of what the moderns call æsthetics, assuredly such an approach to the literary treasures of the Museum would of itself be a striking improvement.

So far as to architectural propriety and æsthetic effect. Let us now observe on the consequences of this change in the Museum itself.



1. The

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