Who doesn’t love a snoop round somebody else’s living room? Visiting the Museum of the Home offers the chance to do exactly that with added history. Not only that there is an excellent shop and one of the best museum cafés around.
Visiting the Museum of the Home
For over a century the Geffrye Museum was a hidden gem loved by many in Shoreditch that told the story of domestic interiors through the ages. Now it has had a multi million pound makeover, every penny of it well spent from what I can see and a name change. The Museum of the Home does what it says on the tin, it looks at the homes of ordinary Londoners, tells their story and examines what it is that makes a home.
Museum of the Home Rooms sets
For me the highlight of the Museum of the Home is the series of room sets from 1630 to the 21st century that show how our homes have changed. They are not drawing rooms of the rich but the parlours of the middle class. Each room comes with a story attached to it. We see how changing technology, gas lighting, electricity, new fangled dyes changed the way our homes looked. My favourites? Its a close run thing between the 1870s and the 1970s.
What Makes a Home?
Down below the room sets are a series of rooms that take a look at what makes a home. Each gallery takes on a different theme. I found myself cooing over objects that I used to have. Orange plastic cassette holder anyone? Or the dial phone, which a gallery assistant explained how to use, no need I still have one at Cultural Wednesday Towers. These galleries have many hands on displays including an original Mario Kart game that will keep children big and small happy for hours. Much debate will be sparked over discussions of did TV’s really used to look like that? And the like.
Museum of the Home gardens
Gardens have changed every bit as much as interiors over the years. To begin with they were largely devoted to herbs. I love the gardens at the Geffrye that explore the way that new plants came from across the world and how gardens when from productive places to leisure spaces. They even have a roof garden, that is both beautiful and insulating.
Who was Geffrye?
When I first visited the Museum of the Home back in the last century it was called the Geffrye Museum after the man who funded the building of almshouses which house the museum. Sir Robert Geffrye was born to poor parents in Cornwall. After he moved to London he became a successful merchant trading in tobacco and slaves. In 1685 he was elected as the Lord Mayor of London. When he died he left £10,000 some of which was left to maintain a school and support the poor of the village of Landrake where he was born, the school is still in operation. In London he left money to build 14 almshouses for the widows of Ironmongers to be built in Shoreditch, these are the buildings that now house the Museum of the Home. A statue of Sir Robert remains on the front of Almhouses and much debate swirls around whether it should remain there.
Molly’s Cafe is a museum cafe with a difference, it used to be a pub, the Marquis of Lansdowne. It was nothing special and nothing notable happened here, much like most other corner local pubs. Local people came here to relax and chat. Now it is remarkable as it is a museum cafe. It is run by the team behind the Anchor and Hope so I expect great things. The coffee and gluten free, dairy free almond cake I had was delicious and plans are afoot for a visit for a cultural cocktail.
Visiting the Museum of the Home
- Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, E2 8EA
- Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
- Admission: free
- Getting there: Hoxton overground station is opposite the entrance and many buses run along the Kingsland Road.
If exploring London’s homes is appealing check out my post on Historic Houses to visit in London, whilst you are in East London you could check out Sutton House in Hackney or hop a couple of stops down the Overgound to see Street Art in Shoreditch