The London-based Museum of the Home is actively exploring the relocation of a contentious statue depicting Sir Robert Geffrye, a seventeenth-century figure who amassed a considerable fortune through the slave trade. This statue has been a focal point of debate, given its presence at the museum’s entrance in the East End of London. The museum itself, originally named after Geffrye, underwent a rebranding in 2018 and is housed within a series of almshouses that were established through Geffrye’s philanthropy.

Recent Developments

In recent years, the call to remove the statue has grown louder, especially after the museum unveiled its renovated premises. Protestors have criticized its prominent display, which faces the bustling Kingsland Road. Despite the museum’s leadership citing the Grade I-listed status of the building as a barrier to making significant exterior changes, the statue’s presence has continued to spark controversy. High-profile figures, including Diane Abbott, MP, and Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, have expressed their dissatisfaction.

Community Response

The controversy has also led to educators from nearby boroughs like Haringey, Hackney, and Islington, calling for a boycott of the museum, which typically attracts around 120,000 visitors annually, many of them schoolchildren. Additionally, local activist groups have been vocal about the statue’s removal.

Shifting Stance

The museum’s management appears to be reconsidering its stance, as evidenced by a recent online statement indicating openness to relocating the statue to a less conspicuous area of the site. The museum acknowledges that the statue’s current location does not align with its values of inclusivity and belonging. The proposed relocation would allow the museum to more effectively share the full narrative surrounding Geffrye’s legacy, including his involvement in the slave trade.

Curatorial Revisions

Furthermore, the museum plans to introduce a new curatorial initiative aimed at providing context and understanding of Geffrye’s historical connection to the site. This marks a significant departure from previous positions, following a comprehensive public consultation conducted with Hackney Council in 2020. Although the decision then was to retain the statue while explaining its context, the majority of the over 2,000 participants advocated for its removal.

Legal and Stakeholder

Engagement Moving forward, the museum is committed to working within the constraints of the listed building’s status and collaborating with stakeholders, including the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, to find a suitable new location for the statue on its premises. This approach signifies a proactive effort to address public concerns while respecting historical and legal considerations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top