The Brit List: Summer of London – Places and Sights

Dennis Severs’ House

More than a museum. (Dennis Severs’ House)

Part museum, part permanent art installation, this Georgian house in the Spitalfields neighborhood of London is a unique attempt to capture nearly two centuries of London life in one building. American-born artist Dennis Severs decorated ten rooms in his home, each one illustrating a different decade in the life of a fictional family. “To enter its door is to pass through a frame into a painting, one with a time and life of its own,” explains the Severs’ House website. Each room is designed so that it suggests that its imaginary inhabitants have just left. Severs even add audio and even olfactory clues about the family, so that visitors can think they hear and even smell evidence of their presence in the house. Severs died in 1999 and left his time capsule home to the public. “The journey through the house becomes a journey through time,” wrote novelist Peter Ackroyd. “With its small rooms and hidden corridors, its whispered asides and sudden revelations, it resembles a pilgrimage through life itself.”

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