Museum of Home 'wants to move' Geffrye statue

The statue of Sir Robert Geffrye at The Museum of the Home (formerly called The Geffrye Museum). Picture: Ken Mears

The statue of Sir Robert Geffrye at The Museum of the Home (formerly called The Geffrye Museum). Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A Hoxton museum has signalled that it wants to move the controversial statue of a slave owner from above its doorway.

The Museum of the Home said it thinks the monument of Sir Robert Geffrye, who profited from enslaving people from Africa, could be moved to a less prominent site at the venue in Kingsland Road.

In a recent statement, it said: “We believe there is potential to retain the statue on site but in an alternative and less prominent space.

"[A space] where we can better tell the full story of the history of the buildings and Robert Geffrye, including his involvement in slavery.”

The museum would have to apply for listed building consent to remove the statue of Geffrye, a former Lord Mayor of London, which sits above the former almshouses he helped to fund.

It comes in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests, which prompted reviews of statues.

This autumn, campaigners called for a boycott of the museum until the statue is taken down.

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The museum’s management said: “We have been listening to many views and considering all options concerning the display of the Geffrye statue.”

Sasha Simic, a member of Hackney Stand Up to Racism, said: “It is good that the museum acknowledges it is a problem and publicly declares they’d like to take it down.

“It’s no good the museum arguing that they will remove the statue when the government lets them. They know that isn’t going to happen."

Last year, a museum study found the overwhelming majority wanted to see the statue removed but culture secretary Oliver Dowden told the museum it should stay.

The museum said it is waiting for new government guidelines “on effective decisions concerning heritage” and the rules about listed building consent.

When the museum reopened in June 2021, a panel was installed beneath the statue which explains Geffrye’s connections with slavery.

Next spring, the museum will reopen an almshouse which will have displays about Robert Geffrye.

The museum added: “We are confronting, challenging and learning from the uncomfortable truths of the origins of the museum buildings, to fulfil our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”