Review: Home Galleries and Rooms Through Time

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Duration: Permanent display

Location: Museum of the Home, London

The Museum of the Home, previously known as the Geffrye Museum, has recently reopened, since its closure in 2018, featuring an £18million upgrade and redeveloped spaces. Situated in almshouses built three centuries ago, in East London, it has come a long way from the straightforward 20th-century furniture museum it once was. It houses a collection of around 40,000 domestic objects and archives that explores the idea of home beyond furniture design.

© A. Papaonisiforou. 2021. The Museum of the Home.

Rooms Through Time


Rooms Through Time before the renovations consisted of a very long hallway that connected ten replica rooms, each frozen at different points in time. It was a simple chronological display of domestic life and how it evolved in the last four centuries.

I once visited the museum as a university student back in 2010. Despite the initial amazement of such an unusual museum, all I could remember 11 years down the line was the very squeaky floorboards and the mouldy smell lingering in all the rooms. It felt like walking through an old and abandoned section of IKEA showrooms. Even though the main focus was educational purposes, it offered very little visitor interaction. The only available learning tools were the very descriptive labels in each room that drew attention to the architectural / furniture design and use.


I was glad to see the long hallway of the Rooms Through Time had not only been preserved but upgraded during the renovations. New labels with tales from people’s everyday life replaced the descriptive ones. A new museum with a new focus based on storytelling.

Each room tells a story from the past; that may as well be true, focusing on home life rather than the lifeless objects on display. Having stories to read supported by various props in each room created a quite theatrical environment for the visitor’s imagination to play over.

© A. Papaonisiforou. 2021. The Museum of the Home

Home Galleries

The new gallery spaces called Home Galleries continue the theme of people’s life stories and dive into human experiences in their homes. A collection of historical accounts of the past depicted in paintings and other objects of heritage significance, alongside photographs and testimonies of more contemporary stories that make the Documenting Homes programme. Such a unique and diverse way to invite more people to participate in the museum.

Their latest project, called Stay Home, is all about the effects of the pandemic on our home lives, and you can take part by sharing your personal experience here.

Collected material will expand the Documenting Homes Archive for future digital and physical exhibitions as well as research.. Check out their collections policy to learn more about the project and your personal submission.

The current display of cultural and personal identity creates an emotional connection through all its categories:

  • How we make our homes
  • How we look after our homes
  • How we relax and spend time at home

A significant amount of interactive objects and displays support the theme of storytelling. Objects placed with a sign ‘please touch’. An array of interactive games, most of which are digital. All related to the stories in each room and creating artistic projects and learning activities for kids and adults. Despite the strict Covid-19 safety measures, it was a fun and welcoming experience.

© A. Papaonisiforou. 2021. The Museum of the Home

Our take

The Museum of the Home is not your typical museum. It’s a place that engages the community through exhibitions, events, research and debates. The new and renovated spaces provide better access for the public, including the gardens and the onsite library. In my eyes, the museum successfully met its aim of exploring the meaning of home through diversity. This engagement with cultural heritage and personal human histories made me question the meaning of home. My answer? The people are the home. Personal stories make a home more than the furniture and structure of a building can. So, what does home mean to you?

I want to learn more:

Stories of home | Homes through time | Museum of the Home formerly Geffrye Museum | Museum of the Home

Museum of the Home collections | Home

VISION IN ACTION 2021/22 to 2024/2025

About the author:

Anastasia Papaonisiforou is a London based exhibitions expert with an MA in Curating and Collections and a background in Fine Arts. She is our oldest patron and graciously accepted to cover this topic for Local Approach; she is available to give advice on discord through our “Let’s talk about your heritage!” membership, upon specific request.

[Edited A. Gkouma]

More from Anastasia:

Curating: a viewer’s perspective

Curating: NFTs

Your Curated Reading List series

Exhibition Reviews series

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