The Museum of Homelessness (MoH) is to open its first dedicated physical premises in London’s Finsbury Park next year.
The grassroots museum was founded in 2015 and is created and run by people with direct experience of homelessness. As well as building a national collection for homelessness, MoH runs artistic events and exhibitions aimed at challenging perceptions of homelessness. It also carries out independent investigations and campaigns for policy change.
Supported by key partner Haringey Council, the museum has obtained a 10-year community lease for Manor House Lodge, where it will host creative programmes and community services focused on homelessness and housing. According to the MoH, the long-term lease will enable significant investment in the site.
The museum plans to turn the venue into a world class creative hub hosting performances, talks and workshops developed by people with experience of homelessness.
In the first year, this will include new work developed with the local community by three artists in residence – Jacob V Joyce, Surfing Sofas and Liv Wynter. MoH will also work with its long-standing collaborator, the artist and theatre performer gobscure, to develop a piece to mark the opening of the site.
The museum will provide 250 support sessions a year from Manor House Lodge, designed in partnership with those in need. These are likely to include regular surgeries focused on housing and legal rights as well as the provision of essentials during the cost-of-living crisis.
The plans for the site also include an open-access, professional standard arts studio for people experiencing homelessness and a home for the museum’s archive and collection.
MoH’s chair of trustees Sharon Heal, who is the director of the Museums Association, said: “This is a critical moment in the development of the museum and we are grateful for the support and commitment of our partners at Haringey Council, our funders and everyone who has supported us on this journey. This ground-breaking museum is everything a museum should be, rooted and radical and with a far-reaching ambition to make positive and lasting change with our communities.”
MoH co-founder Matt Turtle said: “After working in borrowed venues for seven years and relying on the generosity of partners like The Outside Project, we are delighted to be putting down our own roots in Haringey. Finsbury Park is the people’s park, with a proud and radical history.
“We are excited about transforming this precious site into a museum space like no other, a place where people can hear stories they won't hear anywhere else and receive practical support when they need it. Our community will work with partners including the council and people experiencing homelessness locally to make a space for everyone.”
Julie Davies, Haringey Council’s cabinet member for communities and civic life said: “In Haringey we are proud of our approach to supporting residents affected by rough sleeping and homelessness, so I am delighted that Finsbury Park will soon be home to a new Museum of Homelessness. As well as being an important community space that draws on our borough’s rich heritage of social action, this new museum will challenge visitors to rethink their preconceptions and encourage them to approach people who experience homelessness with compassion and empathy.”