Last chance to see

The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects

05 July – 03 Sept 2017

Mon, Tue, Sat & Sun 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00) Wed, Thu & Fri 11.00-20.00 (last admission 19.00) Except 06, 07, 12, 13 & 14 Jul and 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23 Aug & 01 Sep when the exhibition will be open 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.00)

Terrace Rooms
South Wing

A design exhibition revealing the extra-ordinary possibilities of everyday objects.

Somerset House’s Terrace Rooms were transformed into the headquarters of the Learned Society, an imagined venerable society inspired by the real history of Somerset House.

This unique exhibition centered on the power of imagination, narrative and storytelling within design. 30 contemporary designers, artists and makers – including British sculptor Richard Wentworth; ceramicist, Richard Slee; Scottish Indian artist, Jasleen Kaur; jewellery-maker Hans Stofer; and furniture designer, Max Frommeld - were invited to become the new, 21st century Fellows of the Society, and create or contribute objects to this remarkable collection. These new Fellows’ designs presented ordinary objects with extra ordinary stories, or suggested playful and surprising modifications to familiar objects, reimagining our interaction with items we encounter in our everyday lives.



The Learned Society of Extra Ordinary Objects took inspiration from Somerset House’s own real-life history. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Somerset House was the home to the country’s greatest learned societies, including the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Arts. Society members would come together in the new ‘national building’ to discuss advancements and discoveries in their various fields. This exhibition mirrored that same sense of discovery and inquisitiveness and, by placing the designers’ fantastical objects within the story and setting of a Learned Society, exploring different ways of engaging with commonplace objects through creative design.

Curators Clarke and Clerkin hosted two special evening events, on 18 July and 8 August, serving Sipsmith gin and tonic from behind the Society’s Famous Gin Bar. New Society Fellows brought the Learned Society’s history to life with performances from William Warren’s The Prints of Whales band and DJ Phoebe Morris, accompanied by mouth-watering culinary offerings from Jasleen Kaur.  

Curated by Danny Clarke and Carl Clerkin.