Have You Been To London's New Museum Of Migration?

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 86 months ago

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Last Updated 02 May 2017

Have You Been To London's New Museum Of Migration?
A mix of different ethnicities and religions on Cazenove Road. Copyright Christian Simbaldi.

With national and international politics both drawing increasing attention to immigration, it's the perfect time for London to get its own small museum dedicated to migration.

We covered the pop up museum in Shoreditch in 2016, but now the museum has a new, larger home in an old fire engine repair garage on Lambeth High Street.

We arrive through doors labelled 'boarding' and 'arrivals'. It's a nice touch, and yes it does say 'departures' on the way out. We love this quote from author Robert Winder that greets us:

Ever since the first Jute, the first Saxon, the first Roman and the first Dane leaped off their boats and planted their feet on British mud, we have been a migrant nation. Our roots are neither clean nor straight; they are impossibly tangled

The artwork in the foreground features tiny figures, heads down, trudging along.

Some of the works from the Shoreditch show have made it across to here including the mass of tiny figures trudging along all looking at the floor, and the collection of life vests worn by refugees. They aren't actually functional, but instead highlight the perils of the journey many make when seeking a better life.

There is a powerful video of life in the Jungle, hidden behind a giant piece of tarpaulin from the infamous refugee camp. This part of the show has been updated slightly to include accounts from people who have now left the camp after it was dismantled.

Artwork concerning the Channel crossing created by a migrant named Alpha.

The second part of the museum's display looks at the personal stories of immigrants through the ages, focusing on how London has been shaped over time by the many immigrant communities, from Italians in Clerkenwell in the 1940s, through to Portuguese fans celebrating their 2006 World Cup victory over England in Stockwell.

The life jackets worn by migrants, that don't actually function.

It's eye-opening to see how those who have settled in the UK have found it, from racist signs showing a room for rent listing with the phrase 'no coloureds', to asylum seekers who have recently arrived and are still wary of the police, despite having legal status to remain. But there are positive stories of people making their home too, including a lovely snap of an Ethiopian mother and child enjoying a day out at Brighton beach.

A map that visitors can add to, showing their own migratory path.

Visitors are also encouraged to trace their own journeys on a map to show where people have immigrated from, and emigrated to, just to show how multicultural a city we live in.

A film about the Jungle in Calais may be found behind this tarpaulin from the camp.

The museum will have a revolving display of exhibitions while it is in this site — which it will be until at least the end of 2017.

Migration is an important part of London history, and the wider UK too, so we're hoping the Migration Museum is here to stay.

The Migration Museum is at 26 Lambeth High Street, SE1 7AG. The museum is open Wednesday - Sunday, 10am-4pm. Entrance is free. The temporary exhibitions are on until 30 July 2017.