About the Migration Museum

The Migration Museum explores how the movement of people to and from the UK across the ages has shaped who we are – as individuals, as communities, and as nations. 

Migration is a pressing contemporary issue and is at the centre of polarised political and online debate. But there’s an underlying story of comings and goings stretching back many centuries. And this story goes to the heart of who we are today. The UK has thousands of museums, but unlike many other countries, from Australia to France, Brazil to the USA, we don’t have a permanent Migration Museum. The time is right for a highly relevant, accessible permanent visitor attraction that shines a light on who we are, where we come from and where we are going.

We stage engaging exhibitions and dynamic events, alongside a far-reaching education programme for primary, secondary, university and adult learners. We have a growing digital presence and convene a knowledge-sharing Migration Network of museums and galleries across the UK.

Since 2020, the Migration Museum has been based in a venue in the heart of Lewisham Shopping Centre in south London – click here for our latest opening hours and information on how to plan your visit. As a free museum in the middle of a busy shopping centre, we welcome around 70,000 visitors a year from across London and beyond. In 2023/4, we launched a Leeds pop-up museum in Trinity Leeds shopping centre, open from November 2023 until February 2024.

The Migration Museum will be based in Lewisham Shopping Centre until at least 2025/26. Longer term, we have received planning permission for a permanent home for the Migration Museum in the City of London, close to Aldgate and the Tower of London, due to open in 2027. This will be allied to a network of venues across the UK, and a digital storytelling platform.

Tens of thousands of students from more than 600 schools, colleges and universities have participated in workshops run by the Migration Museum’s learning team since 2013. Our learning team has delivered teacher training to hundreds of new teachers and is engaged in consultation and input into the national curriculum through its partnerships with major examination boards.

The Migration Museum also convenes a sector-supporting Migration Network, in partnership with the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, Counterpoints Arts, Horniman Museum and Gardens, Museums Association, National Museums Liverpool, National Trust, and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. The Network brings together organisations from across the UK heritage sector and beyond to share knowledge and best practice on how to increase and improve work on migration themes across all regions and nations of the UK.

Our founding story

The Migration Museum was founded by Barbara Roche, who first made the case for a migration museum for Britain almost 20 years ago, stemming from her time as Britain’s immigration minister, and from visiting similar museums in other parts of the world – notably Ellis Island in New York. 

Barbara assembled a founding team of people from different professional backgrounds who shared her passionate belief that Britain’s migration history should be placed at the heart of our national story. Together, they began to scope what a national migration museum might look like. Sophie Henderson, a former immigration judge and barrister, came on board as Director in 2013.

Between 2013 and 2017, the Migration Museum staged pop-up exhibitions and events and ran education workshops at a wide range of venues across the UK, including the Southbank Centre, the National Maritime Museum and City Hall in London, the Museum of Oxford, Leicester railway station, and the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh. From 2017 to 2019, the Migration Museum was based in a former London Fire Brigade workshop in Lambeth, London.

Supporters and funders

The Migration Museum has secured the support of a wide range of Distinguished Friends – high-profile supporters with a wide range of professional backgrounds and from across the political spectrum who back its vision and ambitions.

We receive funding and support from a wide range of academic, arts, charitable and corporate organisations and trusts, including:

Ahluwalia Family Foundation
Alfred Caplin Charity Settlement
Arts Council England
The Churchill Fellowship
COMPAS, University of Oxford
The Dr Marten’s Foundation
The Dr Michael and Anna Brynberg Charitable Foundation
The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
The Foyle Foundation
Garfield Weston
Hogan Lovells
Kusuma Trust UK
Lewisham Council
The Linbury Trust
National Lottery Heritage Fund – thanks to National Lottery players
Nesta Cultural Impact Development Fund
Oak Foundation
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
The Portal Trust
Rumi Foundation
Shakespeare Martineau
Stelios Philanthropic Foundation

We are also extremely grateful to individual donors who support what we do. If you would like to support the work of the Migration Museum with a one-off or regular donation, you can do so here.