Last month, I was lucky enough to visit The Migration Museum with my museum volunteers.
Museum is something of a misnomer in this case.
The Dictionary description of a museum is: “a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited.”
The Migration Museum started off without a building and doesn’t really have much in the way of a collection of objects. More accurately, it is a collection of stories.
The Migration Museum is the UK’s first museum dedicated to exploring how the movement of people to and from Britain across history has shaped us as a nation. Its current exhibition takes visitors on a thought-provoking journey, explored through migration ‘moments’ from Britain’s history.
Not every moment they include is the most obvious choice and it is as interesting to look at the museum in regard to how a museum is put together, as it is to look at the museum in itself.
With the confusion and uncertainty of Brexit, the exhibition could not be more relevant. The art, photography, and person stories used highlight seven pivotal moments in Britain’s migration history and inspire conversation as much as they provide information. While some heritage institutions are reluctant to be seen as too political, the Migration Museum strives to make personal, emotive points. It is difficult to visit the museum without having an emotional reaction.
Even the journey into the Migration Museum is an interesting one. Currently house in The Workshop, a temporary arts space “dedicated to creative knowledge exchange”, we picked our way through a student project on transport to find the route to the museum we had come to see. When we first arrived, we thought we were in the wrong place. We walked through a working warehouse to find the museum nestled on the first floor.
I don’t want to explain too much about the exhibits as it would spoil the experience. Genuinely I would recommend a visit. It is a unique, timely museum. Although not entirely what we expected, the visit was definitely enjoyable.