Having received a major capital grant of £18.1 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2016, the Museum of the Home embarked on an ambitious project to transform its gallery spaces and visitor offering.

Some of the key objectives for the refurbishment and fit out were to create new gallery spaces in order to expand the scope and diversity of the exhibits, add more facilities for learning and engagement, and, crucially, to create a sustainable future for the venue. This brief was entrusted to Elmwood Projects.

The Museum of the Home first opened to the public in 1914 as a museum of furniture and woodwork, and has since collected an extraordinary, diverse range of exhibits which show people’s everyday domestic experiences and how homes, their roles, contents and technology have evolved from the 17th century to the present day.

- ‘All I want is a Room Somewhere’, from the No Place Like Home series by Jonathan Donovan, on show in the new Homes Galleries

The museum is housed within a 300-year-old Grade I listed former Almshouse and also hosts extensive gardens. All areas were given a thorough refresh as part of the project, with bright new spaces having been created with improved accessibility and wayfinding.

Elmwood’s fit out works included the creation of a new visitor entrance and reception, new Home Galleries on the lower ground floor, and enhancements to other existing displays including the freshly reinterpreted Rooms Through Time. Two new learning spaces and a Collections Library have also been added as part of the museum’s renewal project.

The impact of Covid-19 and the first lockdown was a blow to the museum’s original timescale and, as a result, both the Elmwood Project team and the museum had to exercise patience by delaying the fit-out and agreeing on a postponed start date for the works.

The revised programme was then delivered successfully by the Elmwood team, over a period of approximately 14 weeks. The fit out took place in three separate phases; firstly the recreated Victorian room, followed by the extensive ground floor with its “Rooms Through Time“ period interiors, reception and retail areas, then finally the lower ground floor which contains the Home Galleries.

A delay to the base build works was also successfully overcome with no loss of progress against plan, as the Elmwood team was able to rely on its previous experience of this scenario and work efficiently alongside and around the base build contractor.

Designed by ZMMA Architects, the extensive scope of the new fit out works included setworks, showcases, graphics and lighting, interactives, AV and mounts, plus carpets and decoration. The full fit out was project managed by Elmwood, including the coordination and integration of specialist subcontractors.

Elmwood’s supply chain partners for the project included heritage specialists in conservation grade display cases and in the design, creation and installation of Interactives.

An example of the interactives on display is the Empire Map, which encourages children to explore the influence that countries around the world had on Georgian homes. Users are invited to match an object to its country of origin by matching different shaped pegs together. The design and build of this particular piece required the precise integration of setworks with graphics, electricals and electromagnets, AV hardware and software.

The project was successfully delivered on time and within budget, all overseen by an experienced, specialist team with operations throughout the UK.

Illustration of the new entrance opposite Hoxton Overground Station. Visual by Secchi Smith, design by Wright & Wright Architects
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