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Behind the scenes

New spaces: Undercroft

Written by Lisa Moore, director of capital projects and operations

The Undercroft is going to be accessible to visitors for the first time when we reopen.

Director Sonia Solicari wearing a hard hat in the Undercroft with newly plastered walls Sonia in the Undercroft with newly plastered walls

The old boiler room

The Undercroft space is completely new to visitors. It sits directly under the chapel.

Before the major redevelopment it was home to the boiler and was where we stored our architectural fittings.

We moved the boiler to a new plant room, cleared the boiler plinths and a modern partition wall. And that's when we started to uncover its beauty.

Exciting discovery

Some of us thought a coal chute existed down here. Through the building work we have revealed the chute. Here you can see how coal would enter, and it is also visible from the outside.

Director Sonia Solicari standing in a hardhat by the coalchute in the Undercroft Sonia standing by the coal chute

This coal chute represents a vital part of the story of the Geffrye Almshouses.

In the 18th and 19th century the coalman would dump the main delivery of coal for the almshouses down the chute. From this delivery each resident would receive their quota (six sacks each per year). Coal fires were the only way of heating their rooms, heating hot water and cooking.


Home to a soundscape

We've commissioned writer Maria Fusco to create an immersive sound installation for the Undercroft.

I'm looking forward to unearthing unheard voices and histories in this sonically rich space.

The space and sounds will offer a moment for reflection part way through the new Home Galleries. The soundscape itself will respond to objects in the new galleries and explore ideas of materiality and absence.

The Undercroft will be part of the Home Galleries that run the full length of the main building on the lower ground floor.

You can discover the Undercroft, the Home Galleries and the rest of the reimagined Museum when we reopen.