A gleaming jewel in the heart of Hoxton.
For many years we've been rather in love with the Geffrye Museum. We were thrilled when the museum received a £12 million lottery grant. Roll on 3 1/2 years, after a slightly prolonged closure (Covid!), the £18 million restoration project is finally finished. We were beyond excited to step back inside last week and see the renovated and rebranded site for the first time.
We can tell you it's a BEAUTY. A sparkling new modern Hoxton station entrance awaits you with an impressive lofty glass-roofed ticket hall. The extensive building project included digging out the entire basement of the 4 almshouses creating a brand new gallery space called the Home Galleries running the length of the entire floor. The cosy small gallery rooms bring together a mixture of contemporary and historical stories spanning 400 years. Expect some fascinating exhibits ranging from a cleverly reconstructed Victorian candlelit 'cosy corner', a 1980's TV gaming room, a historical hoover display and the sweetest owl oil lamp you will ever see.
There are heaps of fun interactive to keep little fingers amused. Kids can dress up like a servant girl, create their own touch-screen mug, play the squash the bed-bug game - plus our favourite - the lift the flap smelly dwellings game (get prepared for a nostril assault)!
At the end of the new gallery you step into an immersive sound installation - The Mollspeak Room which instantly throws you back in time as you listen to the voice of an 18th century house-maid telling stories of her exhausting daily duties.
Climb the stairs and you then arrive in our favourite place in the museum - the Rooms Through Time. Here you will amble through sitting rooms from the 16th century to current day. It's a fascinating snapshot of how styles have changed over the last 400 years. As a child of the 70s my absolute favourite was the Caribbean inspired 1976 Front Room with crazy swirling carpets, heaps of dollies and the coolest retro drinks trolley with a fabulous pineapple ice bucket. There are fun puzzles, trails and quizzes dotted along the way to keep little minds busy.
The hand-painted floor to ceiling murals in the walk-through Garden Reading Room near the museum chapel are a total delight. Grab a book and relax here with with a lovely view of the gardens or head to the Reading Lounge and settle down with a book on a squashy beanbag. There's a new Learning Pavilion and Studio which will soon be hosting fun family activities, talks, workshops and performances.
The Gardens Through Time at the back of the museum are in full bloom and look absolutely ravishing. Stroll through the Tudor knot gardens through to an elegant Edwardian garden before you pick up the scent of the Herb Garden. The best view of the inspired new eco-friendly Living Roof is at the entrance to the museum. The Kingsland Road Garden at the front of the museum is the perfect picnic spot with a big lawn surrounding the museum building.
The Collections Library and Study Room is the place to head if you're looking for a quiet place to study the museums collections (students and academics are very welcome here).
Molly's Cafe, tucked away in one corner of the museum, is a super place to stop for coffee, cake and fresh food. Run by the heavenly Anchor & Hope team they make a darn good cocktail too. We had a delicious brekkie with excellent rhubarb jam.
The Museum Shop is bursting with lovely things to buy from giant sprinkies to the coolest retro mugs and plates.
NEW exhibitions include Bearers of Home | BLKBRD Collective featuring five double-sided banners on the Museum's front lawn exploring the notion of home within the local community and Holding the Baby a photographic show capturing the strength and resilience of seven single parent families.
In a year when we've all spent far too much time in our own homes it feels wonderful to be back inside this gem of a museum discovering how so may other people live.
With a whopping 80% more exhibition space there is so much more to love – and love it we most certainly do.
Julia Colls, 10 June 2021
Open Tues–Sun, 10am–5pm
Free but booking required