Museum of the Home is bringing to life seven new period rooms reflecting the interconnected histories of our multicultural East London community.
The Real Rooms project will introduce new stories of home, embracing co-curation with our community partners and centering lived experiences. Opening Summer 2024.
Real Rooms is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the DCMS/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.
In 2021, Museum of the Home reopened as a place to reveal and rethink how we live, in order to live better together. Our public galleries doubled in size, introducing the Home Galleries, co-curated to be more representative of our local communities in Hackney and exploring the innumerable ways in which we make our lives in our homes.
The Real Rooms project will now introduce a far more diverse array of narratives to our Rooms Through Time, reflecting the complex histories of migration and identity that have shaped Britain for hundreds of years.
Using co-creative and co-curatorial methods, the communities we are representing will shape how their histories are being told in the new rooms.
Organisations and groups including our local community, The London Irish Centre and Interactive Research Studio have been involved in various stages of the process such as design, analysis and interpretation.
The seven new period rooms will centre on personal stories and will take inspiration from the lived experience of communities.
The new rooms will include a Jewish tenement flat from 1911, an Irish couple's house in the 1950s, LGBTQ+ renters sharing an ex-council home in the 2000s, a British-Vietnamese home in 2024, and The Future Room, which explores real homes amid challenges such as the climate crisis and technological advances. We will also expand the scope of our beloved 1870s Parlour and Front Room in 1976.
Taking on board visitor feedback, our updated rooms will allow visitors to step into kitchens and living spaces, through corridors and gardens, for a more immersive experience.
Working with our Community Authors
In 2021 we launched the Room to Rethink, a space for visitors to reflect on the Rooms Through Time, and tell us what they would like to see happen to the displays.
As a result, the Community Authors - a group of eight people from a variety of professions and backgrounds - were recruited to play an active role in reshaping the Rooms Through Time.
The Community Authors share ideas, produce and suggest creative programming to challenge the ways we work to ensure that Museum of the Home is representative and inclusive.
The resulting Real Rooms Project comes from extensive work with the Community Authors, as well as continual outreach and engagement with visitors and our local communities.
Julia is a born and raised British Vietnamese (east) Londoner and has also lived in Senegal and Vietnam. She has worked in International Education for 9 years and is happiest when supporting people to fulfil their potential. Outside of work, Julia is involved in bringing and connecting communities together as Founder of Vietnamese Londoners, Advisor to 2-3 Degrees (Personal Development organisation for young people) and as a Community Author at the Museum of the Home.
"I became a Community Author with the Museum of the Home in September 2021 where I have attended monthly meetings with other Community Authors and occasional external meetings to discuss on how best to increase more visitor awareness and inclusivity within the museum via the Rooms through Time. Most meetings have involved an artist of the museum to learn more about the rationale behind their projects and to aid them in brainstorming what sort of outreach would work best within east London.
I’m most excited about seeing the future projects come to life with the ideas that the Community Authors as a collective have discussed within these meetings. It will be incredible to look back and see how this has positively shaped the museum through more visitors within the local community. It will be good to see the communities of Hackney somewhat reflected within the museum which will hopefully in turn inspire the community and younger generation".
Naima Hassan is a researcher who works across shifting field sites, museums, and archives. Her work is often in dialogue with critical anthropology, curatorial practice, material culture and ecology. With an ongoing research focus on ethnographic collections formed in Italian Somaliland, she is interested in the dispersal of ethnographic collections and object/persons mobilities within Europe’s present visa-border regime. She is currently working on projects in the UK, Angola, Italy, and Slovenia.
"I have been a member of the Community Authors collective since September 2021. As a researcher working closely on colonial collections, engaging critical questions about the legacy of Robert Geffrye, and ongoing efforts to contextualise his statue on the grounds of the museum, has been particularly important to me. The constellation of different voices which make up the Community Authors collective, comprising researchers, museum practitioners, local residents and community activists has meant that we have dynamically explored local and migrant histories, how the museum can employ polyvocality, and ideas for community engagement for the Rooms Through Time redevelopment project.
Our monthly gatherings have provided an opportunity to consult on and discuss critical issues and upcoming programmes with invited guests, artists, and staff. This September, Community Authors were invited to present research explorations or ideas around objects which could tell migration stories in the period rooms. My presentation titled, 'Activating Memory through the Senses: The Somali Dabqaad (Incense)' explored the potential role of using scents to activate visitor's sensorial memories. I explored the Somali practices of incense burning in the home, and distributed frankincense during the presentation to introduce a conversation about migrant practices of homemaking which until recently, were not often represented within the museum. I am excited by ongoing efforts within the museum to diverse its collections, and to drive thinking around international collaboration and global practices of homemaking".
Drucilla Burrell is a visual artist, contemporary dandy, and creator of Queer fantasia. She’s also an Art Director with the Adobe Studio team. Her photographic practice is rooted in the study of Classical techniques and their implementation and dissemination via digital technology. Her most recent commission for The National Gallery playfully re-imagining the power dynamics presented in traditional portraiture using contemporary digital methods.
"I’m extremely excited to be involved in the project as I adore helping to give previously hidden stories the platforms they deserve!"