Since arriving back in the UK, I’ve been travelling the country seeing friends, family and museums. Visiting the Geffrye Museum, during my perfect weekend in London, has been one of the highlights so far. This museum has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time. During my museum studies Masters in 2008, I remember one of our lecturers remarking it was her favourite museum. She’s the kind of person with very good taste, so I knew it must be a gem!
As someone who only visits London a couple of times a year, it’s always hard to fit everything in. Especially when the nationals keep coming up with tempting sounding exhibitions. As soon as I entered the Geffrye, I was quickly wondering what had kept me away for so long!
The Geffrye Museum focuses on the homes and gardens of the urban middle classes in Britain. The displays track the tastes and fashions from the 1600s to the modern day. The museum is set in a beautiful old building, which was originally built as almshouse in 1714. Today, the building is surrounded by gardens with a perfect picnic lawn at the front.
The displays consist of a series of period rooms, guiding you through the ages. Each period room is complimented by an introductory display area, with objects, interpretation and furniture you can try out! I liked these displays because you can get a closer look at the collections and it allowed distracting interpretation to be kept to a minimum in the period rooms. It was interesting to learn about how the availability of raw goods was influencing tastes of the period. Of course one of the themes that caught my eye was TEA!
I love thinking about a time when tea was a very expensive luxury. The adorable paintings of ladies taking tea, helped you imagine what it would have been like to drink from the dainty cups. I also admired the tea caddies where the lady of the house would have locked away the precious leaves. Heaven forbid one of the servants might try and steal some!
The 1960s living room got me pretty excited as it displayed lots of Danish Modern furniture. Having just bought a very similar dining table and chairs at an antiques shop in Adelaide, I was pleased to see this type of furniture in a museum!
The rooms are complemented by a series of gardens, which are a super part of the visit. As with the period rooms, they are organised in a timeline. There was even a tea garden inspired by beautiful tea set I’d seen on display earlier (pictured above).
Overall this museum has a V&A-like vibe (but not as annoyingly busy!). It was classy and a really fun afternoon out. I also spotted a pretty cafe with views over the gardens. I didn’t have time to test out on this occasion, but it’s a good excuse to visiting again!
So I’m back in London again, after visiting Galstonbury (you can read about my trip to the abbey here) and Scotland. I’ve got a couple of days free for visiting other museums. If anyone has suggestions for other less-obvious museums to visit, I’d love to hear about them. Just add a comment or tweet me @amyldale.
Bye for now…