The Museum of the Home

With double the exhibition space, a new entrance and name, the Geffrye Museum is set to reopen its doors this summer as The Museum Of The Home. Peter Gray reports.

Following a three year, 18 million pound renovation, The Geffrye Museum will reopen later this year as the Museum Of The Home. The venue is set to launch on the 12th of June and city:countdown will be there on the opening day!

There will be a brand new entrance opposite Hoxton station which will make accessing the museum easier and a variety of new exhibition spaces to tell the story of London’s interiors.

The new exhibition spaces are the result of opening up the stores underneath the historic alms houses which house the museum.

The refurbished museum will place a greater emphasis on contemporary living, with a “room of now” designed by a mix of artists and curators, as well as a ever changing list of exhibits that have helped transform how we live in the 21st century.

The gallery will also take a much more thematic approach to its collections with a particular emphasis on the personal. Objects from various periods will be grouped together to highlight not only how times have changed but also how the things we use shape and are shaped by us.

In addition, an array of individual stories and histories will be weaved into the narratives to give a sense of who we are as a people.

The new entrance at the Museum of Home

The larger exhibition space will also mean more space for key objects, with the museum estimating that it will be able to display up to 500 previously unseen objects in the new galleries. 

Fans of the old museum will attest to what an incredible place it was. Set in a row of Alms Houses on historic Kingsland road, the museum involved a series of roomscapes, tracing the history of English interiors from 1600 to the present day. With a fascinating and in depth commentary, the museum offered an incredible overview of the seismic changes that have taken place in homes up and down the land over the last 400 years.

The Geffrye Museum opened to the public on the 2nd of April 1914. The museum was housed in a row of historic Almshouses which had been built as a result of a bequest by Sir Robert Geffrye.

Geffrye, a wealthy merchant who had made his fortune in the East Indies, moved into politics in later life (he was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1685) and as such, the plight of the poor became one of his chief concerns.  

At the time of his death, Geffrye left a substantial sum of money for the construction of houses for the poor. These Almhouses were constructed in 1715 on land in the then semi rural Shoreditch.

In 1912, the houses fell under the ownership of the London County Council (the forerunner to the Greater London Authority). The council had purchased the estate primarily to save the gardens,  thus when a proposal was made to turn the houses into a museum with the conservation of the gardens guaranteed, the council agreed, and the Geffrye Museum was born.

Initially a museum of furniture and woodwork, the new venue primarily showcased the local area’s deep connections to the UK furniture industry.

It was in the 1930s that the museum’s then curator, Marjorie Quennell, devised the chronological series of living room displays that would serve the institution right up to the 21st century. The plan, which manipulated the basic layout of the houses, came to characterise the venue and were a great part of the institution’s charm. 

The Geffrye Museum reopens as The Museum Of The Home on the 12th of June 2021.

For more great museums and galleries in London, please click here.

-London's Best Museums-
What: museum reopening
When: 12 June 21
Where: Kingsland Road
Website: Museum of Home