What?: Remember the Geffrye Museum? Well it’s not called that anymore – mostly because it was named after a slave trader (though his statue has managed to survive the museum’s three-year-long revamp project, to the horror of pretty much everyone in Hackney) – but also presumably because Museum of the Home just sounds… better? The Geffrye, as it was, was pretty crap to be honest. The displays were lacklustre at best and there was almost nothing to entice little ones bar a few sad books and a nice garden.
These days though, it’s great (if you can ignore the slave-trader statue, which is hard). The £18m refurb has rendered the museum much more child-friendly, interactive and just generally more interesting. Some of the drier exhibits (namely the corridor of front-room recreations) remain, but have been updated with some more diverse additions: the 90s flat is now inhabited by a gay couple and there’s a jazzy mid-70s setup that pays homage to the mid-century African-Caribbean experience in Britain. The main galleries are packed with interactives, from old-school phones to dressing-up clothes and even an original SNES hooked up to an 80s TV – plus a big comfy library with an (admittedly still fairly pitiful) selection of kids’ books.
Temporary exhibitions are more frequent than they used to be (in fact I don’t remember any temporary exhibitions in the museum’s previous incarnation), and often child-friendly, and weekend and holiday workshops pop up often. The cafe is nice but expensive and not amazing for kids – although they do offer plates of chips, which is usually all mine want anyway – and the shop is great (largely because it stocks my book). Mostly though, it’s just great to have a decent, free museum in central-ish London where kids are actively welcomed – especially since the Museum of Childhood has closed for literally years while they refurb it. Lovely rainy day fun. Now if they could just get rid of that statue…
Where?: It’s still at 136 Kingsland Road (E2 8EA), but the main entrance is now behind the museum, directly opposite Hoxton Overground station.
When? It’s open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm.
Tickets: Entry is free but you need to book a timeslot to enter. Some temporary exhibitions cost extra.
Where to next?: Head to Hoxton Monster Supplies for spooky treats; the Britannia Centre for soft play and splashy fun; Hackney City Farm for cute animals; Bob & Blossom for gifts; and Toconoco for lunch.
Roma visits the interactive galleries at Museum of the Home, Hoxton.