'Geffrye must fall', say protestors as Hoxton museum reopens

 Protesters are demanding the removal of the statue of Robert Geffrye.

Diane Abbott joined protesters demanding the removal of the statue of Robert Geffrye who lived from 1613-1703. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Diane Abbott joined councillors and anti-racism campaigners to rally outside the Museum of the Home, calling for the statue of slave trader of Sir Robert Geffrye to fall.

On the museum’s reopening day on Saturday, June 12, following a three-year closure due to a £18.1million upgrade, Hackney MP Ms Abbott was present to demand the figure's removal. 

A protester signs a petition outside the new entrance to The Museum of the Home, opposite Hoxton Station.

A protester signs a petition outside the new entrance to The Museum of the Home, opposite Hoxton Station. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Speakers called out the decision by the museum’s board to keep the statue, despite almost 80 per cent of respondents to a survey living nearby wanting it gone.

Documents released by the Museum of the Home last year also revealed governmental pressure had played a role in its decision.

Geffrye Must Fall protesters rallied at the front of the museum's gates on the day it reopened (June 12). 

Geffrye Must Fall protesters rallied at the front of the museum's gates on the day it reopened (June 12). - Credit: Polly Hancock

Ms Abbott said: “The community doesn’t want that statue where it is, most of the workers in the actual museum don’t want it where it is.

"In 2021, what are we doing glorifying slave traders?"

Protesters at the front of the building on Kingsland Road carry signs saying Geffrye Must Fall.

Protesters at the front of the building on Kingsland Road carry signs saying Geffrye Must Fall. - Credit: Polly Hancock


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Ms Abbott also recalled visiting the museum as a child and told how the 17th century merchant, who profited from the transatlantic slave trade, was glorified as a "hero" and "important man".

The MP added: "We didn’t get any information at all about how Geffrye made his money. There was no mention of slavery or the slave trade or the broken and bloody black bodies that had to suffer for Geffrye to have the money to build this."

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At the rally, the Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said the museum's board had "turned its back" on Hackney.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville calls for the statue of Sir Robert Geffrye to be removed. 

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville calls for the statue of Sir Robert Geffrye to be removed. - Credit: Polly Hancock

He added: “[The] statue represents blood, murder and exploitation over centuries and it should not be standing in Hackney in the 21st century in a prominent position above this museum."

Despite continued calls for removal, The Museum of the Home has reopened and made efforts to "keep and explain" the statue instead.

The Museum of the Home's Bearers of Home exhibit created by BLKBRD Collective.

The museum's Bearers of Home exhibit created by BLKBRD Collective. - Credit: Holly Chant

Director, Sonia Solicari, said the museum "welcomes peaceful protest", adding: "As a museum we are a centre of debate and discussion so we welcome that dialogue."

A plaque with a QR code has been installed next to the statue leading to a detailed history of Geffrye and changes have been made to reinterpret collections showcasing more stories of Britain's colonial history. 

The museum is also featuring a temporary art installation called Bearers of Home which acts as a visual response to the debate around the Geffrye statue

Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas.

Hackney Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas spoke about her mixed heritage and supported protesters calls for the statues removal. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Cllr Carole Williams holds up a sign which reads: "Black and Tired."

Cllr Carole Williams holds up a sign which reads: "Black and Tired." - Credit: Polly Hancock


The statue has been on the building since 1912.

The statue has been on the building since 1912. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Protesters congregated outside the new entrance to The Museum of the Home, opposite Hoxton Station.

Protesters congregated outside the new entrance to The Museum of the Home, opposite Hoxton Station, in time for the museum's opening at 9.30am on June 12. Speaker Sasha Simic from Hackney Stand Up to Racism. - Credit: Polly Hancock



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