The Geffrye Museum is one of my favourite places in London. The museum has 11 British period rooms that span from the 1600s to the present day. Each room “represents the main living space used by a family and their guests. How people would have lived in the rooms, alongside the furnishings, lighting and heating, show how homes and home life have changed over time, reflecting changes in society, behaviour, style, taste and the wider world.” For my final major project, I am planning to create an installation, possibly a room, set in a key moment in history. I visited the museum to see how they captured the past and brought it to life for a modern audience.
The museum is a quirky and fun place, that is educational in both its historical and artistic knowledge. It was really useful to see a fully organised 1960s living room in the flesh, as you were able to get a real sense of the designs in both the furniture and colour schemes. There are a lots of greens, yellows and browns – earthy tones that are not too ‘showy’ or ‘flashy’. The spider plants and large wooden furniture sets are accurate to that period, as they were very popular and common at the time. It’s great to see a snapshot into these 11 periods of history, learning what has changed and what has been more consistent – how technology has developed, and the influence world events had on design.
Despite being impressed by the realistic nature of the museum scenes, there was still a barrier between you and the historic setting. You were not allowed to walk in the room and get close to the individual features and objects. Not being able to be immersed in the room completely meant there was still quite a static feeling, as the history wasn’t brought to life to its full potential. It would have been interesting to have a more interactive element, with possibly, in the more recently set rooms, a TV set or radio playing something relevant to the time. In my final installation, I want the history and story to take over someone’s view and close off the outside world.
I would definitely recommend visiting The Geffrye Musuem in Hoxton, London. It’s an interesting and fun day out, and it’s free!
All photographs from: http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/explore-the-geffrye/period_rooms/