The Hackney Museum is a community history museum that serves the London Borough of Hackney. It holds and maintains a collection of over 8,500 objects, artworks, images, and oral history recordings.
The collections reflect the daily lives of people in the borough, particularly those who have migrated from other parts of the world. We aim to provide a platform for under-represented voices to share their experiences and memories and create a safe and trustworthy space for local communities to share their stories, discuss local issues with historical context, and understand how their experiences relate to others.
When the Hackney Museum was established in 1986, it inherited a variety of existing collections related to the local area from internal departments such as the Arts & Entertainment Service, Library Service, Hackney Archives, the Mayor’s Office, and the Chalmers collection. The museum team at the time aimed to build the collection, reflect the borough's ethnic and cultural diversity, and attract further donations. They collected extensively and without discrimination to represent the lives and histories of all the borough's residents. The items collected included posters, ephemera, photographs, and objects, many of which reflected the social and cultural history of Hackney and formed the basis of the museum's permanent displays in Central Hall, Hackney.
In 2002, the Hackney Museum moved to the Technology & Learning Centre at 1 Reading Lane and established close partnerships with community collecting panels. The museum provided support, funds and resources to these panels to gather objects that represent the experiences of members of specific ethnic and cultural communities in the borough. These collaborations influenced the development of the content for the current permanent displays, which narrate the migration and settlement of Hackney over the past 2,000 years.
Between 2002 and 2008, the Hackney Museum primarily acquired items through unsolicited offers from the public and had a passive approach to collecting. However, starting in 2008, the museum has placed more emphasis on actively acquiring items through exhibitions and projects such as "Mapping the Change" (2009-2012) and "Our Museum" (2012-2015), as well as documenting changes in the borough of Hackney.
Starting in 2002, a handling collection was created which primarily consisted of "suitcase" resources. These suitcases feature replica objects, copies of original photographs, maps, and other printed materials, and tell the story of individuals who have moved to Hackney at some point in its history. The suitcases are created in partnership with the person or descendant being represented, or are based on oral history accounts from the museum's collection, whenever possible.
The handling collection also includes other objects pertaining to specific historical eras that are included in our educational programs, such as the Victorian era, World War II, and Windrush, as well as objects from various communities represented in Hackney. These objects are widely used in the Museum's Learning Program.