MOTH Project - Museum of the Home

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global shockwaves caused by the murder of George Floyd, communities across the world rallied against symbols of oppression, particularly statues and institutions linked to the transatlantic slave trade as part of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The movement galvanised protestors against symbols of oppression and resulting actions included the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.

Hackney Council launched a review into the street names and landmarks within the borough. One such statue, that of trans-Atlantic slave trader Robert Geffrye, prominently positioned over the entrance of the Museum of the Home, faces the Geffrye estate, a local social housing complex. Amidst this fervour, Voyage spearheaded by a passionate group of young people decided to join the national debate. Voyage penned a compelling letter to the Museum of the Home, calling for the immediate removal of the statue.

The letter sparked a public consultation which gained the support of 80% of local residents surveyed. Specifically, it highlighted the troubling presence of a figure connected to the slave trade prominently positioned in a public museum, in a diverse London borough, and emphasised the urgency of addressing this issue, especially during these times of heightened racial tension.

As the campaign gained momentum, Voyage took a proactive approach, reaching out to the Museum's Director, to discuss the concerns raised by the community. In this pivotal meeting, it became evident that the Museum faced an extremely difficult decision, due to a recently introduced government policy, "Retain and Explain," affecting museums nationwide. Violating this policy could jeopardize the institution's future. Faced with this dilemma, the Voyage leadership team proposed innovative ideas to both win the hearts and minds of the museum's Board of Trustees and comply with the government's policy.

Young people from Voyage were appointed to craft a brief, appoint an artist team and oversee the planning stages for a new display of the statue of Robert Geffrye. The project had real-life implications for the local and wider communities and the heritage sector as a whole.

Museum of the Home wanted to work with young people in creative ways, to engage with young people aged 16-24 from any background or experience who are under-served by the cultural sector.

This complex project; bringing together a self-described ‘white museum’ with young people of colour to work on a historical statue for a Grade1 listed building, of which the context is political and deeply felt, coupled with the pressure on all participants to produce meaningful ideas through a process that also needed to be fun and creative, was a ‘huge deal’ for everyone and ‘getting it right’ was a constant pressure.

The young people from Voyage thanked the Museum of the Home for its forward thinking approach and for ‘making a space available where we can have these sensitive conversations’.

One of the young people participating has subsequently joined across organisation committee and continues to make a valuable contribution. During the Summer of 2023, the museum hosted two work placement students who produced a new digital trial concept design. A further young person secured a full- time role at the museum. A wider team of young people from Voyage are set to continue working with the museum in 2024, in phase two of the project, to explore sensitive solutions to the display of the statue, telling it's full history in an inclusive and culturally sensitive, open way.

Read Report HereVisit Website Here

Learn more about Voyage

WE USE COOKIES! By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation.
Read our Privacy Police here.