'Geffrye must fall', say protestors as Hoxton museum reopens
- 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.
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.
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?"
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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.
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.
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.