Hackney museum will celebrate it’s 100th birthday with a line-up of events

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 March 2014

Children at the Geffrye Museum, c1940. Credit:  Geffrye Museum of the Home/Copyright holder

Children at the Geffrye Museum, c1940. Credit: Geffrye Museum of the Home/Copyright holder

By kind permission of the Trustees of the Geffrye Museum, London

A small museum with big ambitions will celebrate two major birthdays this year.

A boy woodworking at teh Geffrye Museum. Credit:  Geffrye Museum of the Home/copyright holderA boy woodworking at teh Geffrye Museum. Credit: Geffrye Museum of the Home/copyright holder

The Geffrye Museum in Kingsland Road, Haggerston, which is dedicated to the English home interior from 1600 to the present day, will launch a series of events to mark its centenary. It will also be 300 years since the Grade-I listed building was originally built as 14 almshouses to house poor pensioners.

The museum first opened its doors in 1914 after the arts and crafts movement persuaded the London County Council to save the building and its gardens – one of the few green spaces in the area – and turn it onto a museum to inspire the local furniture trade.

One hundred years on, it still continues to inspire local furniture designers and plans to kick-off its celebrations in April by holding a contemporary home design fair, showcasing the work of emerging talent from Hackney and beyond.

But it will continue to appeal to people from all walks of life with a full programme of exhibitions and events throughout the year, including tea-themed events for adults and children during Chelsea Fringe, live musical performances, a behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s collections and archives; special tours of a restored almshouse, a garden exhibition created by young people, food banquets throughout the ages and candlelight performances and talks.

Timeline of Geffrye Museum’s history

1714 The Geffrye Almshouses are built by the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers with funds bequeathed by Sir Robert Geffrye, former Lord Mayor of London to house poor pensioners

1910 The Ironmongers company decide to move the almshouses to the suburbs due to overcrowding and lack of sanitation

1912 London County Council buy the almshouses and gardens to provide public space in the densely populated area

1914 The building is saved from demolition and the Geffrye Museum is founded to provide a reference collection of furniture of a ‘fine standard of technical and artistic excellence’ to educate and inspire the local workforce

1935 Management of the museum taken over by Education Committee of London to provide the capital’s schools with a resource for learning about the history of domestic life

1991 Museum becomes an independent charitable trust

1998 One of the historic almshouses is restored and the museum gets its first extension with a restaurant and shop

It will also continue to be true to its roots as an education resource by carrying on a dedicated learning and holiday activity programme for schoolchildren who make up a third of visitors.

As well as celebrating its past, the museum is also looking forward to the next 100 years. It aims to punch at an international level by achieving recognition as one of the world’s leading centres of the home. Almost 15 per cent of the 110,000 visitors the museum received last year were from overseas.

In order to bring in more visitors, it wants to build a new extension to exhibit more of its existing collection. The museum has currently shortlisted several architect firms to design the proposed extension – which is scheduled to be open by 2020 – and hopes to reveal potential plans later in the year.

Director David Dewing said: “2014 is a big year for the Geffrye Museum, 300 years since the almshouses were built in 1714, providing homes for the poor, and 100 years since the museum opened in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.

“The museum has never been more popular. We are seeing record numbers of visitors and growing demand for our learning programmes for schools and for people of all ages and abilities in our local and wider communities.

“We are pleased to be part of Hackney’s social and economic regeneration; we plan to develop the museum in the next few years to get more of our collections on display and open our resources for more people to enjoy. In this centenary year we are both celebrating the past and embracing the future. We are encouraging as many Hackney residents as possible to come and take part.”

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