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Museum History

A View of Sir Robert Geffrye's almshouses, 1805

The Geffrye Museum of the Home is in the midst of a major transformation which will see it reopen in 2020 as the go-to place for ideas and inspiration about home and home life.

The origins of the museum go back over 100 years. When it opened in 1914, the Geffrye focused on the local furniture trade. This shifted when the furniture industry moved away in the mid-1930s, and the focus turned to children and families and the collections were organised into period rooms to provide a unique resource for learning about the history of domestic life. The museum's learning services were developed by Molly Harrison, an educational pioneer who was at the forefront of making museums centres for learning and education.

The museum is set in beautiful 18th-century almshouse buildings, surrounded by lush gardens. The almshouses were once home for up to 56 people. They were built in 1714 with a bequest from Sir Robert Geffrye, former Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Ironmonger’s Company. As London expanded during the 19th century, the once-rural area became the centre of London's furniture and clothing trades and, by 1910, the area was one of the most heavily populated areas of London, so the Ironmongers' Company decided to sell up and move to the cleaner, safer suburbs in the country. The almshouses and gardens were bought by the London County Council in 1912, mainly to provide a public open space in such a densely populated area. Leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement subsequently persuaded the LCC to convert the almshouses into a museum.

When we reopen we invite you to use the museum as a place to discover and celebrate, reveal and rethink home together.