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29 Nov 2019

London's Museum of the Home targets 2020 relaunch with refreshed identity
BY Andy Knaggs

An illustration of the Museum of the Home's new entrance, opposite Hoxton train station

An illustration of the Museum of the Home's new entrance, opposite Hoxton train station
photo: Secchi Smith

The £18.1m (US$23.4m, €21.2m) renovation and reimagining of the Geffrye Museum of the Home in London, UK will come to fruition in Q3 2020, with the museum's reopening at its Grade-1 listed almshouse location.

The relaunch will coincide with a new name, as the museum is dropping the Geffrye moniker, which comes from Robert Geffrye, a former Lord Mayor of London who built the almshouses. In future the institution will simply be known as the Museum of the Home.

National Lottery Heritage Fund backing to the tune of £12.3m (US$15.9m, €14.4m) has been critical in allowing the renovation of the museum, which will result in 80 per cent more space to present its collections. The redevelopment was designed by Wright & Wright Architects.

A final £600,000 (US$775,000, €704,000) of the £18.1m total is still to be raised, and the museum is actively fundraising this in various ways, including an online Sow a Seed appeal, which invites the public to support the replanting of the "Gardens Through Time" exhibit.

Placing the human viewpoint and personal stories at its heart, the museum will respond to national and global narratives about themes relating to the home – including those such as homelessness, immigration, mental health and the environment – through a programme of activities, from festivals and exhibitions to talks and performances.

The content will enable visitors to "consider the ways we have lived in the past in order to explore creative ideas about new ways of living and looking at the world", the museum said.

Director Sonia Solicari commented: "Our new displays, spaces and stories will be a starting point for ideas and conversation about what home means. I hope every visitor will feel at home here and be able to relate their own experiences and ideas of home to the stories we share."

Among the new developments are a new entrance, a street-facing cafe with terrace, improved visitor reception and facilities, a new learning pavilion and studio (part funded by Arts Council England), direct access all year round to Gardens Through Time, a new eco-friendly roof garden, and a new collections library that provides public access to the museum's archives and collections for the first time.

Permanent displays will explore the everyday experiences of home life over the last 400 years, using media such as photographs, textiles, furniture, hand-crafted and mass-produced objects, film, audio and historical catalogues.

Themes explored encompass diverse cultures and religions, styles and aesthetic tastes, domestic gender roles, homelessness and migration, housework and entertainment, and tales of love and loss that span the centuries.



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