Museums in People’s Homes

24th June-2nd July 2023
Compass Festival, Leeds, UK

During ten days of intimate performances in living rooms and kitchens, Joshua Sofaer and his mobile museum of unique collections, shared stories of the wonderful collectors of Leeds.

In 2019, artist Joshua Sofaer, and Compass Director Peter Reed, travelled across Leeds meeting collectors, sipping tea and listening to stories and reflections of lives spent collecting.

Working with furniture designers Plaey, Joshua Sofaer then created a mobile museum comprising 14 separate artworks, each representing a collection housed by people he met. There’s a woman that can’t resist a charity shop bargain, a man that has acquired hospitality gifts from around the world, a bomb-disposal technician’s keepsakes, a Buffy superfan, a recycling obsessive, someone who can’t help but stop to pick up her cat’s whiskers, and a guy who lives in a house of drums, among others.

Using a variety of materials and processes, objects which sometimes have little to no monetary value, have been transformed into ‘museum standard’ artefacts, worthy of the high value we should place on people, their stories and personal collections. Based on the Wunderkammer or cabinet of curiosities, in summer 2023, Museums in People’s Homes was welcomed into households across Leeds. Hosts invited a small group of guests (family, friends and neighbours) for a guided tour of the museum.

The six floors of the museum are stacked up one on top of the other, the lights switched on, and the tour-guide steps up onto his personal stage (a pair of very high Japanese wooden sandals). The stories of all the collectors and their collections are then told to an audience directly in their home.

Museums in People’s Homes | Individual Works
Stigma (expanded polystyrene, gesso, saffron powder 60 x 95 x 60mm)
Salvadora persica seed paperweight (organic matter, acrylic, 65 x 65mm)
Uncle Tom’s Urn (ceramic, ceramic dust180 x 160 x 110mm)
7-Eleven Receipt (thermal paper 56 x 161 mm)
The Cat’s Whisker (felis cattus vibrissa 90mm)
Hear Through (Ear Defenders) (brass35 x 12 x 12mm)
Dream Spell Amulets (linen, wood, silver plate, brass, bronze, stone, nylon 300 x 100 x 35mm)
Covert Medal (aluminium, steel, wood, cardboard, polyvinyl, synthetic fibre flock 95 x 95 x 45mm)
Copper Glove (copper, 120 x 100 x 80mm)
Hospitality Gift (pu-er wrapping paper, copper wire each 240 x 60mm)
Seat Belt Vitrine (acrylic, nylon, styrene 150 x 120 x 50 x 1000mm)
A Woman’s Touch (cotton, nylon each 240 x 100 x 70mm)
Match Boogie (cardboard, matches52 x 34 x 14mm)
Sex Worker Trash (gold electroplated steel120 x 80mm | 150 x 85mm | 10 x 95mm)

Featuring stories from the collections of Clare Bentley-Smith, John Boulton, Victoria Boyden, Gill Crawshaw, John Daniel, Tracey Dixon, Kathleen Henwood, Laura Hilton-Smith, Alan H, Ian, Jane Kettle, Christine Osborne, Alison Pidgeon, and Ralph Thoresby.

Photography by Lizzie Coombes © 2021
Performance documentation photography by Jemma Mickleburgh © 2023

Museums in People’s Homes by Joshua Sofaer, 2021.
Cabinet designed and built with Plaey.
Commissioned and produced by Compass Festival, Leeds.

Press & Links

“...we found the visit last night magical. I think all of us will hold it dear for the rest of our lives and we feel so very lucky to have had that moment, and have so much gratitude for the time and care taken to create something so lovely. [...] You gifted us a moment of peace, awe and wonder.” T.M.

“...a very big thank you for such a special and uplifting experience. Museums in People's Homes is fantastic. I feel incredibly honoured to have enjoyed this experience with my friends at my home.” L.M.

“This intimate live art experience is really breaking boundaries and is truly bringing art to its audiences.” B.G.

“I’m still in awe.[...] An incredibly generous + poetic work. The museum was so well curated and the guided tour immaculately presented. We learened so much social history about Leeds.” M.H.

“An absolutely extraodrinary morning - quriky, fascinating and memorable social history of Leeds, it’s people and places which has left me thinking all day.” J.R.

Compass Festival
Museums in People's Homes Catalogue