About the Migration Museum

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

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. Britain has thousands of museums, but none comprehensively focused on this important theme that connects us all. The time is right for a highly relevant, accessible visitor attraction that shines a light on who we are, where we come from and where we are going.

From our current home in the heart of Lewisham Shopping Centre, 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.

The story so far

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, where it reached over 30,000 visitors through a series of acclaimed exhibitions and events. 

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 tens of thousands of visitors a year from across London and beyond.

The Migration Museum will be based in Lewisham Shopping Centre until at least the end of 2023. Longer term, the Migration Museum continues to scope and seek permanent locations for a national Migration Museum for Britain.

Around 22,000 students from 600 schools, colleges and universities have participated in workshops run by the Migration Museum’s education team since 2013. The Migration Museum’s education 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.

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 Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
The Foyle Foundation
Garfield Weston
Hogan Lovells
Kusuma Trust UK
Landsec
Lewisham Council
National Lottery Heritage Fund – thanks to National Lottery players
Nesta
Oak Foundation
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Remitly
Rumi Foundation
Unbound Philanthropy

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.