Q&A with Museum of Ordinary People (MOOP)

May 4, 2021
3:59 pm
Kitty Bew

This May the Museum of Ordinary People (MOOP) takeover the Main Gallery to exhibit HOME, an immersive installation of curated objects and artefacts. This exhibition is open to the public from 20 May, Thurs-Sun. Book your viewing slot here.

To find out more about MOOP, read our Q&A with them below.

Can you tell us about the Museum of Ordinary People?
The Museum of Ordinary People (MOOP) is a Brighton-based pop-up museum without a permanent home that celebrates the ripples we all leave behind, telling hidden stories using everyday objects. We work with local people to creatively explore collections of objects that belong to ordinary people – diaries, documents, love letters, photographs and more. Through our collaborative workshop practice, these collections become the exhibits and installations displayed in our museum. We believe in the power and ability of objects to tell ordinary people’s stories, MOOP exhibitions make visible previously ignored or erased lives – the sections of society that have been left out of traditional museum narratives.

Our first project worked with members of the public who had collections of everyday objects or documents they wanted to explore. We ran a series of workshops – in the Green Room at the Phoenix Art Space – that allowed participants to create an artistic response to their objects. Our These Times project, which saw people across the country create journals of their everyday life during lockdown was shortlisted for the Museum Association’s Best Small Museum Project at the Museums Change Lives Awards. The Museum of Ordinary People was co-founded by Lucy Malone and Jolie Booth in 2017. Producer Rose Dykins joined the core team in 2018 and Jemima Senior recently joined as MOOP’s Assistant Curator – and we have a fantastic team of around 25 volunteers.

How did the exhibition HOME come about?
HOME is a collaboration between The Museum of Ordinary People and Mnemoscene  – an immersive tech company founded by Sophie Dixon and Ed Silverton. We originally planned the exhibition for the 2020 Brighton Festival, but it has evolved in line with the shifting conditions of the pandemic. The curatorial concept of home reflects MOOP’s fascination with the magic in mundane, everyday objects and the value of our personal stories and histories. The pandemic has definitely given a whole new layer of meaning to the idea of home. Eventually we arrived at the idea of exploring our emotional connection to the home through building a home within the exhibition space and filling it with exhibits that celebrate everyday objects and personal histories.

Since we’ve hosted MOOP events at Phoenix Art Space, the building means a lot to us. Then we found out the story of Harriet Sylvester, and we just couldn’t believe it! A row of terraced houses used to stand where Phoenix Art Space is now. In the Sixties, they were bought and demolished to make way for office space. Apart from one. Harriet Sylvester – who lived in the middle – refused to move out of her home. The Green Room where MOOP first started used to be her home. There was such a strong sense of serendipity. We knew that hers was a story that we wanted to tell as part of the exhibition and it gave a new layer of meaning to the concept of home that runs throughout.

We also wanted to collaborate with Mnemoscene to explore the tension between the tangible and the digital. Before HOME opens to the public on 20 May, everyone can explore the exhibition virtually via www.harriets.house

What can visitors expect to find in the Main Gallery?
Beautiful, heart-breaking and uplifting stories of ordinary people – themes and narratives that you don’t see included in traditional museums. We believe museums should make people feel and we hope that people come to HOME and see something of themselves reflected back at them.

When you come along – please remember to bring headphones and pen if you are able to! There is so much to interact with and explore, we are so happy people are finally able to experience HOME – it’s been such a long time coming and it feels incredible to be hosting another exhibition once again in Brighton, this time for the Brighton Festival!

Find out more about MOOP.

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