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A museum in a shopping center
The nature of our buildings and streets affects our behavior, affects the way we feel about ourselves and, importantly, how we get along with others.
(MacDonald Becket in Designing Places for People, a Handbook for Architects, Designers, and Facility Managers (1985))
I remember when I got to London and landed in the Lewisham borough 5 years ago. I remember being in the corridors of its shopping center and realizing one thing: many people buying in that shopping center were from other parts of the world and I felt identified with them. I was also a migrant.
It may seem obvious, but that moment was the one that made me realize this fact, and the corridors of that shopping center are engraved in my memory. For this reason, I am particularly excited that the Migration Museum decided to settle in this very same place.
It is not the first museum integrated into a shopping center. This trend began as a result of the global recession of 2007-2010, when some museums took up space in shopping malls, making beneficial use of the area and taking advantage of the foot traffic in these spaces to attract more people.
I think it is a good way to mitigate the "threshold fear" introduced by Elaine Heumann Gurian, she said: “museums clearly have thresholds that rise to the level of impediments, real and imagined, for the sectors of our population who remain infrequent visitors”. The Migration Museum facilitates access since families or individuals can improvise a visit to the museum while shopping or doing any leisure activity in this shopping center.
And it is a very inspiring museum. Instead of discussing just the problems migrants suffer in their daily lives, it elevates the discourse by also talking about the importance of migration in a city like London.
For example, the current exhibit on display called “Taking Care of Business” sheds light on migrant entrepreneurs’ central role in shaping Britain’s lives. According to the Migration Museum: “From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, the apps on our phones and the products in our homes, our lives would not be the same without migrant entrepreneurs”.
By the way, very interesting and inspiring to discover the large number of companies founded by migrants that are part of our lives.
Gurian, E. (2006). Civilizing the museum. London: Routledge, pp.115-125.