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Phil Knott, Museum of Youth Culture
Photo Phil Knott/Museum of Youth Culture

London’s Museum of Youth Culture is at risk – here’s how you can help out

The first museum dedicated to the style, sounds, and social movements of young British people is being forced to relocate

For several years, the non-profit organisation YOUTH CLUB has been working to document and preserve the last 100 years of youth culture from its base at Printworks, culminating in the pioneering Museum of Youth Culture. During its time at the London events space, the museum has hosted educational workshops and public exhibitions, spanning everything from the 1940s teens who raced bicycles through post-war bomb sites, to the hedonistic raves of the late 80s and early 90s.

Vitally, Printworks has also provided a secure location for the Museum of Youth Culture’s archive of more than 150,000 photographs, clothes, rusty pin badges, and other subcultural ephemera. Early next year, however, the emerging museum may find itself without a home.

Major works that are planned as part of a wide-scale Canada Water regeneration project are forcing the museum to move out of its long term location in February 2022 (a move that puts its massive archive of rare heritage items at risk, without specialist relocation).

To help preserve the vast collection of materials that it’s amassed over the years – including the nostalgic donations from the general public that it collected over lockdown – the museum has now put out a public call for help with the fees involved in securing a new space.

“Without this support, our collections will have to go into inaccessible storage units where they are at risk of damage,” explains the Crowdfunder page. “Our educational programme will have to be put on hold indefinitely.”

The Museum of Youth Culture is also currently running a three-month pop-up at 154 to 156 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, which opened on December 9 and includes a multimedia exhibition space and bookshop. This location is one option for its permanent home, the museum explains, and could house exhibition and research spaces, a darkroom, an events space, an honesty cafe, and more. However, it ​​requires funds to fend off potential counter offers from wealthier corporations.

“This is a great opportunity for us to have a permanent home in London and help people understand the influence and importance of youth culture on society,” says Museum of Youth Culture founder Jon Swinstead. “It’s the perfect location for locals, tourists, and the lifestyle curious to come and learn about the importance of conserving youth culture.”

“What seems mundane now will become treasured memories in the future.”

You can help find the Museum of Youth Culture a new home via the fundraiser (which runs until December 22) here.