To Ease Tensions Around Migration, a New London Museum Presents Its Human Face

The new museum seeks to humanize the way people think about migration in the UK.

Cazenove Road, from the Migration Museum's
Cazenove Road, from the Migration Museum's "100 Images of Migration" exhibition. Photo ©Christian Sinibaldi, courtesy the Migration Museum.

London’s new Migration Museum opened to the public on April 26, with the aim of providing education about the rich, multicultural history of migration in the UK.

The Migration Museum Project was founded in 2013, and has since been staging events and workshops across the UK, with the eventual goal of settling in a permanent museum.

The team just moved into a temporary space at The Workshop in London, on 26 Lambeth Street, where it will remain until at least February 2018.

In the coming months, it hopes to expand its reach into local communities and schools, create a national knowledge-sharing network with museums and galleries, and test the waters for running a museum long-term.

“Migration is the hot topic of our times, and at the center of fierce and often polarized debate, but behind the often divisive rhetoric, it’s actually a topic that unites us all” director Sophie Henderson told artnet News.

‘If you dig into anyone’s family history in Britain, you will find a migration story, whether of immigration or emigration—or both.”

"Call me by my name" at the Migration Museum at The Workshop in London. Photo ©Migration Museum Project.

“Call me by my name” at the Migration Museum at The Workshop in London. Photo ©Migration Museum Project.

Central to the museum’s aims is the goal of counteracting the sometimes-dehumanizing portrayal of migrants in the media.

“We can provide a much-needed space for reflection and discussion, away from the heated political and media debate,” Henderson says.

The museum’s current exhibitions include “Call me by my name: Stories from Calais and beyond,” which focuses on stories told by artists, refugees, volunteers, and members of the public who were touched somehow by the notorious French refugee camp that was demolished in November.

The Red Carpet, Part of the Migration Museum's "Call me by my name" exhibition. Image ©Paul Evans, courtesy the Migration Museum.

The Red Carpet, Part of the Migration Museum’s “Call me by my name” exhibition. Image ©Paul Evans, courtesy the Migration Museum.

Also on view is “100 Images of Migration,” photographs by professionals and amateurs that reflect what migration means to them, from protest photos from the 1950s to intimate family portraits of immigrants living in the UK today.

Both exhibitions are on view at the Migration Museum until July 30, 2017.

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