"The best small museum in the world"

100 Images of Migration at the Hackney Museum

A new exhibition at Hackney Museum has opened to fantastic reviews from visitors and press.

100 Images of Migration has been developed in partnership with the Migration Museum Project and gives a glimpse of migration in and out of Britain over the last 100 years.

Speaking at the launch, Barbara Roche chair of the Migration Museum Project, described Hackney Museum as “the best small museum in the world.”

Pictures from people across the country, including some from well-known photographers, feature in the exhibition and show the many backgrounds of people who have come here over the last hundred years.

From adventurers and travellers to people in search of work or education as well as refugees escaping from war, poverty or oppression in their own countries, the images on display reflect them all.

Through Hackney Museum’s dedicated educational programme, local primary school children visited the exhibition as part of the nationwide celebration of last month’s Refugee Week. Pupils discovered the reasons why people have settled in the UK, exploring the experiences of refugee communities and forced migration.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
Hackney Museum's educational programme is created to both challenge and inspire school children in Hackney. These particular sessions around migration, and indeed the exhibition itself, seek to develop an understanding of how migration has brought new cultures and communities that have helped to shape the country we live in today. This is particularly pertinent in Hackney, where we have a proud history of celebrating diversity.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

A particular focus was on the story of Maurice Nwokeji, a local singer, whose story, photograph and migration suitcase feature in exhibition. Maurice lived through the Biafran war of independence in Nigeria during the 1960s and 70s.  His parents were in Hackney and his grandparents who were looking after him died of starvation. He and his little brother were saved by the Red Cross and after the war he came to Hackney aged five.

“We lived in a mud hut, me and my brother and my grandmother in a beautiful village called Akuma in Biafra, Nigeria. We were like wild kids, hunting with catapults.  I was five when the war in Nigeria started. Very quickly our beautiful village was destroyed, the animals all died out and there was nothing left to hunt. Everybody was starving. To me that was the way the world was, I come from a background of war, starvation, hatred. I was taught to hate from the age of five. I hated all my life and I don’t any more. Wow! How good is that," said Maurice.

After reading Maurice’s story, Rosawn, 9 years, a pupil from Berger Primary School said: “I would feel hungry, tired, thirsty, sweaty and bored. My feet will be hurting it’s like my feet are broken. I would be more hungry than a lion trying to eat a zebra. My guitar sings songs to make sure no more children starve.”

The Guardian’s Hugh Muir also spoke at the exhibition launch and said: “Migrants help make this country what it is. It’s about real people, real lives.”

Come and see the pictures and read the stories for yourselves. The free exhibition is open now and will run from now until 31 August 2013.