This scene shows Bullock’s Museum, or ‘The Egyptian Hall’, a venue owned by the 19th-century jeweller and collector, William Bullock, which presened a glimpse of an exotic world to London’s fashionable high society.
Originally from Sheffield, Bullock developed a passion for collecting items primarily related to natural history, art and armour, which led to the foundation of his private museum in Sheffield, in 1800. After moving to London, he opened a museum at 22 Piccadilly, in a newly-commissioned building inspired by the design of an Egyptian temple. Bullock’s ‘London Museum’ contained some 15,000 objects which, according to a guidebook of the time, were collected ‘…during seventeen years of arduous research at a cost of £30,000.’ Admission was one shilling, or one guinea for an annual ticket.
Bullock became a Fellow of the Linnean Society, a London-based group of scientists and explorers dedicated to the study of natural history. In 1819 he sold his collection and converted the museum into an exhibition hall, which became the venue for a range of displays, art panoramas and performances. The building was demolished in 1905 and replaced by an office block. Today the site is Nos 170-173 Piccadilly.
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