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Teenage Bedrooms

Teenage bedrooms: ‘like a house inside of a house’

Tuesday 4 October 2016 – March 2017 (end date tbc). Free
Geffrye Museum of the Home, Hoxton

Bedroom belonging to Freya East London.Photography by Kyna Gourley as part of PhD research by Carey Newson

Freya’s bedroom, East London, 2014. ©Kyna Gourley

Stop, knock, and go in…

This small display steps into the homes of 26 London teenagers to explore the meaning and significance of contemporary teenage bedrooms. A combination of photographs, interviews, objects and an installation representing a teenager’s bedroom will show how identity, memory and friendship are expressed within these private spaces.

Most of the teenagers interviewed see their rooms as a close reflection of their own individuality, changing as they change. Within the family home the teenage bedroom appears an intimate canvas and a space apart, described by one participant as “like a house inside of a house”.

While the bedrooms are very different, there are also common themes. Teenagers find many ways to bring the outside world into these spaces and their walls evidence their cultural and emotional lives beyond the home. But the rooms are also a rich personal archive that commemorates childhood and family history, providing continuity with the past.

Teenagers’ parents were also interviewed and reflect on differences between their own remembered teenage bedrooms and those of their children, able to retreat to their rooms to talk to friends on social media, rather than brave the phone in the hall. In present-day rooms, the mobile by the pillow or the laptop on the duvet is a recurrent sight, and the bed, often a double, is an island of comfort from which to connect and communicate. At the same time, some teenagers find special appeal in the tangibility of earlier, non-digital forms of communication, such as letters and vinyl records.

Teenage bedrooms is guest curated by Carey Newson, an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher from the Centre for Studies of Home – a partnership between the Geffrye and Queen Mary, University of London. The photography is by visual anthropologist Kyna Gourley. The project is supported by the Centre for Public Engagement, Queen Mary, University of London.


Teenage Bedrooms

Curator Carey Newson discusses her research into teenage bedrooms, reflecting on change across a generation, sibling tensions in shared spaces and family negotiations around mess, décor and teenage gatherings.

Friday 11 November, 1-2pm. Free


1. To request images or arrange an interview with one of the exhibition curators, please contact Nancy Loader on 020 7749 6026 or

2.  The Geffrye Museum explores the home from 1600 to the present day. Evocative displays of middle-class London living rooms and gardens illustrate homes and home-life through the centuries, reflecting changes in society, behaviour, style and taste. The museum is set in elegant 18th-century almshouse buildings surrounded by gardens, in Hoxton, East London.

3. We want to open up the Geffrye for all our visitors and the local community. So we are embarking on a major transformative capital scheme to greatly improve our visitors experience of the museum, create new spaces for our collections and learning activities, and develop the museum for generations to come. The £15m project is due to complete in 2020, depending on funding and planning.

4. Entry FREE

 Address: 136 Kingsland Road, Hoxton, London E2 8EA

 Tel:  020 7739 9893

 Open:  Tuesday – Sunday & Bank Holiday Mondays 10am – 5pm

 Travel:  Overground: Hoxton station (directly behind the museum)

 Tube:  Liverpool Street station, then bus 149 or 242 from Bishopsgate

 Old Street station (exit 2), then bus 243 or 20-minute walk

6 October 2016

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