£10,000 raised for new queer household installation at Museum of the Home  

Museum of the Home’s new period room set will open this summer. Pic: Museum of the Home. 

More than £10,000 has been raised by the Museum of the Home in Hackney to fund the installation of a new queer household in their galleries.  

The museum, sited in Kingsland Road, launched a crowdfunding page during LGBT+ History Month, and reached their  target earlier this week, now surpassing it.  

The money will go towards creating an early 2000s period room set that tells stories of queer domesticity through a snapshot of the lives of characters Alex, Sara, and Ashley, in an ex-council flat in Hackney.  The room is due to be opened in July.

Aurelien Enjalbert, who is curating the new LGBT+ room, told Eastlondonlines: “The LGBT+ community is and was an important community in the area that really contributed to the life of Hackney.  

“We used to have an LGBT room, that was our 90s room. It was based on the loft of a gay couple down the road. But the room itself was built in 1998, and the lifespan of a permanent gallery in London is about 20 years. So we were due to review, revamp these rooms and redo them.” 

The old 90s LGBT+ room in Museum of the Home. Pic: Museum of the Home. 

As part of planning for the new room, workshops were conducted to ask people what they wanted to see in the household.  

While Enjalbert said that the question of what a queer home looks like can’t really be answered, certain elements and objects seem to play important parts when it comes to illustrating queer stories.  

Workshops were held to ask community members what they wanted to see in the new queer household. Pic: Museum of the Home. 

Enjalbert said: “The bathroom has been one of the spaces that has come up a lot as a key feature and as a springboard to tell LGBT+ stories in. One of the participants in the workshop phrased it really nicely in that the bedroom is where your stuff is in, your living room is where your friends and family come to.  

“The bathroom is the only place and space that you have for yourself, to get ready and kind of as a threshold to leave the personal space and go into the outside world, that can be a threatening space for LGBT+ people.  

“So this will be an interesting point to tell stories about LGBT+ domesticity, or for example, makeup as objects and tools to go out and face the outside world. Clothing will also be an important part of telling these stories, clothing as a means of self-expression.  

“And art, we have club ephemera, so in that way, we’ll be able to tell also the story of the locality, because on Hackney Road, there used to be three LGBT bar venues literally a minute’s walk from the museum so we’ll also be able to tell the story of the local area and these venues that used to be there at the same time as the 2000s room.” 

Objects such as clothing, makeup and art will be sourced from the local community and used to tell queer stories. Pic: Museum of the Home. 

Their fundraiser page allowed people to claim rewards such as badges, ceramics, or private tours of the gallery depending on how much they donated.  

Addressing why they had to turn to the public to raise funds, Enjalbert said: “The way funding works in museums is that we get some funding from the Department of Culture, Media & Sports, but then we also fundraise for specific projects.  

“The thing is traditional funders kind of overlook everyday stories. So none of the traditional funders were interested in funding this collecting project because of the everyday quote-unquote unimportant nature of the objects. So that’s why we had to go down this funding route… Objects are bought from community members, and we compensate people for their donations. So that’s how the money is spent, when buying objects from people like you and I.” 

The crowdfunding project received donations from 115 people. One of the donators, Philomena Corrigan, commented on the fundraising page: “Best of luck with this project to stop queer life being ‘hidden from history’.” 

Enjalbert said on the topic: “I think LGBT stories always have the danger to be erased and to be silenced. If you look at the collecting practice that’s happened [at Museum of the Home] even though there’s been more of an effort to collect social history across the board, unless we’ve actively collected LGBT+ stories specifically, the erasure in the archive remains. The absence remains. So they are stories that do remain overlooked even though LGBT+ people are an essential part of the local area.” 

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