The former home of Charles Dickens will reopen to the public today after undergoing a £3.1 million revamp to give the impression that the great author has just “stepped outside”
The Charles Dickens Museum, in Bloomsbury, central London, was the family home of the 19th century genius between 1837 and 1839.
Visitors will be able to tour the house where he wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby and finished writing The Pickwick Papers, stripped as far as possible of modern additions and restored to its original condition.
The Great Expectations project, funded largely through the Heritage Lottery Fund, has also restored neighbouring 49 Doughty Street to include a visitor and learning centre and a cafe, welcoming regular school trips for the first time.
Visitors will be able to tour Dickens’s dining room, complete with place names for famous visitors such as William Macready, the great Shakespearean actor of the time, and to see Dickens’s marriage licence.
His original writing desk and his reading desk, which he designed himself, are among a series of items and documents on display.
The museum includes photographs on display to the public for the first time of the 1865 railway accident in Staplehurst, Kent, in which Dickens was involved.
It will also include costumes from the recent film adaptation of Great Expectations, including Helena Bonham Carter’s Miss Havisham and Ralph Fiennes’s Magwitch costumes.
The redesign, which opens the attic and kitchen of the house for the first time, has transformed the museum, first opened in 1925, from being viewed by visitors as “atmospheric but tired and slightly shabby” to reflecting the house in its original state, director Florian Schweizer said.
The reopening comes in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dickens in Portsmouth, Hampshire.