Museum of the Home

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Museum of the Home
Cmglee London Geffrye Museum garden.jpg
Front facade and garden
Museum of the Home is located in Central London
Museum of the Home
Location of the Museum of the Home in London
Established1914; 108 years ago (1914)
LocationGeffrye Almshouses
136 Kingsland Road
London, E2
United Kingdom
Coordinates51°31′54″N 0°04′36″W / 51.531742°N 0.076630°W / 51.531742; -0.076630
Visitors120,000 (annually)
DirectorSonia Solicari
Public transit accessLondon Overground Hoxton
WebsiteMuseum of the Home

The Museum of the Home, formerly the Geffrye Museum,[1][2] is a free museum in the 18th-century Grade I-listed former almshouses on Kingsland Road in Shoreditch, London.[3] The museum explores home and home life from 1600 to the present day with galleries which ask questions about 'home', present diverse lived experiences, and examine the psychological and emotional relationships people have with the idea of 'home' alongside a series of period room displays.[4]

In 2018 the museum had about 120,000 visitors before then closing for two and a half years, during which an extensive refurbishment and building programme took place. The Museum reopened as the Museum of the Home in Summer 2021 with a mission to reveal and rethink the ways we live, in order to live better together,[5] and with 80 per cent more exhibition space for its collections and 50 per cent more public space.[6][7][8][9][10] The Museum of the Home now has new basement galleries (The Home Galleries), a cafe, learning pavilion, collections and reference libraries, several events spaces, and replanted gardens.[11]


Almshouses were built on the site in 1714, to house the widows of ironmongers.[12] The almshouses were funded by a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, a merchant who had served as Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Ironmongers' Company.[13] There were 14 four-room houses, for up to 56 pensioners, with a large garden.

The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association contributed to the funding for the acquisition of the former almshouses and garden by Shoreditch Metropolitan Council, and the MPGA's landscape gardener Fanny Wilkinson laid out the garden in 1900–01.[14]

In 1911 the Ironmongers' Company decided the area had become too dangerous for pensioners, moved them to the country, and sold the buildings to the London County Council (LCC).


The museum opened on 2 April 1914.[15] When the LCC took over the site to create the Geffrye Museum, Wilkinson's design was replaced with a new layout. The area was a centre of the furniture trade, so it was decided to establish a reference collection of furniture and interiors to inspire the manufactures. When furniture production moved away the focus of the museum shifted to a younger audience, particularly school children. In the latter part of the 20th century it was run by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA).

Following the abolition of ILEA,[16] the museum became a charitable trust in 1991.[17]

In 1992 a herb garden was opened on a formerly derelict site to the north of the building, partly funded again by the MPGA, which then awarded the herb garden its London Spade Award in 1992.[14]

The museum expanded in 1998 with the opening of a horseshoe-shaped extension designed by Branson Coates Architecture,[18] providing space to add a 20th Century exhibition, shop and education rooms.

In January 2018, the museum closed for an £18m development project, reopening in June 2021.[19] Until this closure, the main permanent displays were a series of room settings furnished and decorated to show the main living spaces and elements of domestic life through the centuries, reflecting changes in society, behaviour, style and taste.[20] The museum's change of name was announced in 2019.[21] Since reopening, the Museum has new galleries to "explore the concept of home through people's everyday experiences of making, keeping and being at home over the last 400 years".[19]

With the reopening of the refurbished and extended buildings in Summer 2021 the museum has 80 per cent more exhibition space for the its collections and 50 per cent more public space, with its entrance now facing Hoxton station.[6][7][8][9][10] The Financial Times' correspondent praised the Museum's refurbishment and exhibits, stating: "There is nothing else quite like the Museum of the Home ... Other museums tend to dwell on the finest artefacts, the most famous chairs, lamps or most beautiful manufactured pieces. This is not that. This is about how even the humblest of homes reveals rich, unique stories, a recognition that culture is not only the domain of museums but of all of our front rooms, bedside tables and the snaps in photo albums (or on phones) of years of family dinners in the room with slightly ropey wallpaper, the stopped clock, those old plates and granny’s dining table."[22]

The Times dwelt on Michael McMillan's West Indian front room: "The stand-out set is the new West Indian front room circa 1976 with its glittery cushions, pineapple ice bucket and kitsch souvenirs from St Vincent. A proper home with cheering clutter ... The gardens are heavenly, the gift shop divine. It might be the best present-shopping spot in London."[8]

As part of its exhibits the museum also has a mission to rethink the way we live now, with the museum's director Sonia Solicari stating that: "“Interestingly, the almshouses are beginning to look like a viable model for 21st-century housing ... Each person had the essentials, a bed and a table, and relied on itinerant food sellers, bakehouses and bathhouses. People are thinking about pod living now, and how we can make these smaller homes work. There’s an idea where our home is just a base and we get everything else we need from outside the home in shared and communal spaces. There are new artists’ homes in Barking and Dagenham like this — made with communal and shared spaces as an integral part of the plan. The home of the future is looking a lot like the past.” [23]


Door onto the building's courtyard

Several structures connected with the museum are listed on the National Heritage List for England. The main museum building is Grade I listed and the niche in the northwest corner of the forecourt of the museum is listed Grade II*.[24][25] The forecourt wall, gates and railings to the museum are also Grade II* listed, and the two K6 telephone boxes on Kingsland Road outside the museum are listed Grade II.[26][27][28] In 2021 the museum reopened following an extensive rebuilding programme.[8]

Statue of Robert Geffrye[edit]

Above the Museum's former entrance is a statue of the benefactor who financed the almshouses within which the museum is now situated, Robert Geffrye. Geffrye was a merchant whose wealth was partly derived from the forced labour and trading of enslaved Africans. The statue is a replica replacing the 1723 original which was moved to the new almshouses in 1912 when the building was sold.[17] Following the refurbishment of the museum and the reorientation of the site towards Hoxton Station, the statue of Robert Geffrye is now located at the back of the building, with the new museum entrance located opposite Hoxton Station.[6][29][30][31]

In July 2020 the museum held a consultation on the potential removal of the statue, with 79.4% of local people voting to take the statue down.[32] Under pressure from the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who threatened to remove the museum's funding, the museum's board of trustees elected to "reinterpret and contextualise" the statue in its current location.[33][34][35][36] There is now a sign at the foot of the building below the statue.

In November 2021 the Museum published a revision to their previous position, stating that the Museum "... strives to be a welcoming place for all. We feel that the statue of Robert Geffrye on the front of the Museum's buildings does not promote the sense of belonging that is so important for our visitors, and fundamental to the Museum's values." They went on to state that: "As a Grade I listed building, there is legislation that the Museum must take into account in making any decision. The Museum will work closely with its stakeholders as anticipated additional guidelines are issued by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on effective decisions concerning heritage, as well as the process around Listed Building Consent. We have been listening to many views and considering all options concerning the display of the Geffrye statue. We believe there is potential to retain the statue on site but in an alternative and less prominent space, where we can better tell the full story of the history of the buildings and Robert Geffrye's life, including his involvement in transatlantic slavery … We are confronting, challenging and learning from the uncomfortable truths of the origins of the museum buildings, to fulfil our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”[37][2][38][39][40][41]



  1. ^ Brown, Mark (27 November 2019). "Geffrye to reopen as Museum of the Home after £18m overhaul". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b "Sir Robert Geffrye: Museum of the Home wants statue moved". BBC News. 16 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Opening hours | Getting here | Museum of the Home".
  4. ^ "Stories of home | Homes through time | Museum of the Home formerly Geffrye Museum | Museum of the Home".
  5. ^ "What we stand for". Museum of the Home.
  6. ^ a b c Crook, Lizzie (30 May 2021). "Wright & Wright completes overhaul of Museum of the Home in London". dezeen.
  7. ^ a b Moore, Rowan (30 May 2021). "Museum of the Home review – home discomforts". The Observer.
  8. ^ a b c d Freeman, Laura (10 June 2021). "Museum of the Home review — a welcome facelift for this faithful friend". The Times.
  9. ^ a b Thompson, Jessie (7 June 2021). "The Museum of the Home's £18.1m refurb: inside the rebranded east London cultural hotspot". Evening Standard.
  10. ^ a b Tolhurst, Sophie (9 August 2021). "Museum of the Home by Wright & Wright Architects".
  11. ^ "Hire spaces at the Museum for corporate or private events | Museum of the Home".
  12. ^ Haslam, Kathy (2005). A History of the Geffrye Almshouses. London: Geffrye Museum. ISBN 1872828108.
  13. ^ Hunting, Penelope (2013). Riot and Revolution: Sir Robert Geffery 1613–1704. London: Geffrye Museum. ISBN 978-1872828145.
  14. ^ a b "Geffrye Museum Gardens (Hackney)". London Gardens Trust. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  15. ^ "The story of the Museum | Museum of the Home".
  16. ^ "The Education (Inner London Education Authority) (Horniman and Geffrye Museums) (Transfer of Functions) Order 1990 | UK Parliament".
  17. ^ a b "Statement by the Board of Trustees of the Museum of the Home about the statue of Sir Robert Geffrye and plans to create greater diversity and representation at the Museum" (PDF). Museum of the Home. 29 July 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Highlights of Haggerston; The Hackney Society" (PDF).
  19. ^ a b "About the Museum". Museum of the Home.
  20. ^ "What we do | Our work". Museum of the Home.
  21. ^ Sanderson, David (27 November 2019). "Tongue-twister Geffrye museum of the home clears its name". The Times.
  22. ^ "The museum that celebrates the 'joyful mess' of home". The Financial Times.
  23. ^ Burroughs, Katrina (23 April 2021). "The reopening of the Museum of the Home in Hoxton, east London, tells the story of our domestic interiors". The Times.
  24. ^ Historic England, "Niche in the north west corner of the forecourt of the museum (1265687)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 July 2017
  25. ^ Historic England, "Geffrye Museum (1226772)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 July 2017
  26. ^ Historic England, "Forecourt wall, gates and railings to the Geffrye Museum (1265688)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 July 2017
  27. ^ Historic England, "K6 telephone kiosk, outside Geffrye Museum (1235680)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 July 2017
  28. ^ Historic England, "K6 telephone kiosk, outside Geffrye Museum (1235681)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 5 July 2017
  29. ^ Williams, Fran (2 June 2021). "Wright & Wright's Museum of the Home completes". Architects' Journal.
  30. ^ Stathaki, Ellie (30 May 2021). "Inside the redesigned Museum of the Home". Wallpaper.
  31. ^ "Museum of the Home". Architecture Today. November–December 2021.
  32. ^ "Minutes of the board meeting where you discuss the Geffrye Statue - a Freedom of Information request to Geffrye Museum". WhatDoTheyKnow. 10 August 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  33. ^ York, Chris (30 June 2020). "'Black Lives Clearly Don't Matter' As Museum Ignores Public Vote And Keeps Slave Trader Statue". Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  34. ^ "Museum of the Home to keep Sir Robert Geffrye statue". BBC News. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  35. ^ Demianyk, Graeme (27 August 2020). "Museum Felt 'Extremely Compromised' By Minister's Plea To Keep Slave Trader Statue". Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  36. ^ Duff, Oliver (6 October 2020). "Robert Geffrye statue: Dowden threatens to cut museum's funding if slave trader Sir Robert Geffrye's statue is removed". Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  37. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (18 November 2021). "Museum of the Home considering moving statue of slave ship owner". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Harris, Gareth (17 November 2021). "London museum wants to move controversial slaver statue to 'less prominent space'". The Art Newspaper - International art news and events.
  39. ^ Salisbury, Josh (17 November 2021). "Museum of the Home considers moving controversial slave trader statue".
  40. ^ LDRS, Julia Gregory (16 November 2021). "Museum of Home 'wants to move' Geffrye statue". Hackney Gazette.
  41. ^ "Information about the statue of Sir Robert Geffrye on the Museum's buildings | Museum of the Home".

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°31′54.26″N 00°04′34.39″W / 51.5317389°N 0.0762194°W / 51.5317389; -0.0762194