Have you ever noticed the variety of things designed, built, and used to sit on? Museum London’s collections are testament to that diversity. Sit On It! highlights a wide variety of chairs, benches, stools, and other objects used or adapted for sitting. They reflect a range of settings and functions, from public institutions to private homes, sites of rest and duty, decorated and informal. Many also tell us a great deal about London and Londoners. 

Different seats seem right for different jobs. For instance, some of us eat while seated on wooden dining chairs. But we relax on comfortable upholstered chairs. We expect to sit on a pew if we attend church or synagogue. And when we visit the dentist, we encounter an altogether different kind of chair. 

Some chairs become heirlooms, reminding us of events, people, and places long gone. Still others are relics of past practices and no longer figure in our day-to-day lives. For instance, few of us have ever encountered a close stool: a seat with an embedded chamber pot. 

This exhibition also features a selection of paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs prominently featuring chairs, drawn from the Museum London collection.  Many of these works of art represent a particular genre: portraiture. Portraiture is particularly relevant to this exhibition because the person, or subject, a portrait depicts is often described by another term: the sitter.  

Please stay awhile, but remember: no sitting on the artifacts! 

Image: Deck Chair, 1940s, Gift of Peggy and Glen Curnoe, 2015