Last week we visited another beautiful museum in London, there are so many in this city. In the meantime several themes have passed, such as science, nature, modern and historic art, design and transport. This time we went to the Horniman Museum, a large historical building with different collections focused on anthropology, natural history and musical instruments.
The museum is located on Forest Hill in the South of London and is easily accessible by public transport. Upon arrival, we entered the large gates and followed a walking path upwards towards the entrance of the building. The museum has been open since the Victorian era, when Frederick John Horniman (a former tea merchant and philanthropist) opened his house for the first time and presented a special collection of objects to visitors. Since then, the collection of the Horniman Museum has increased tenfold and contains internationally important collections.
Frederick John Horniman’s mission was to “bring the world to Forest Hill” in order to enrich the lives of the local community. His travels brought him to distant destinations around the world where he collected objects for his collection. This ultimately consisted of two parts: art and nature. In 1893, an extension of the museum had to be built to accommodate the growing collection. The adjoining Gardens and Butterfly House were involved in the museum on 1 June 1895.
The Horniman museum currently displays collections about anthropology, natural history and musical instruments and has a collection of 350,000 objects. One of the most famous exhibitions is the large collection of stuffed animals.
We started our way at the Natural History Galaxy on the ground floor. A beautiful space with left and right original display cases with, among other things, stuffed animals, skeletons and fossils. Most of the objects, including a huge walrus, were collected over 100 years ago during the Victorian and Edwardian era. A period when many naturalists and collectors explored the world.
At the first floor of the National History Gallery you’ll find a timeline with mainly British fossils, as well a presentation about the classification in the animal kingdom. If you walk around the balcony counterclockwise, you can discover the different groups of animals that have evolved over time.
In the corner of the National History Gallery is the discovery corner Nature Base where children can learn about wild animals living in and around the city. Through play objects aimed at seeing, feeling and hearing they become acquainted with different animals and learn to identify them.
Time to discover the rest of the museum on the lower floor, where you can find the Music Gallery. In this interactive gallery you’ll find more than 1300 musical instruments are shown from all over the world. The gallery also offers short films about the instruments, where they come from and how they are used in different cultures. Tables with built-in tablets allow you to listen to the sound of your favorite instruments.
Another fun space in the Horniman museum is the Hand on Base where you can see a part of the collection very close. In this gallery you can discover more than 1000 real museum objects by touching or even wearing them, such as African costumes and Mexican masks.
Because of the approaching closing time we decided to postpone the 16 acres of Gardens including the Butterfly House until a next visit. Probably in the spring, when everything is in bloom and a new gallery will be opened in the museum then.
The Horniman museum has a lot to offer for all ages. You could spend a whole day here, given the size of the whole museum. Good to know when you want to visit the museum with kids, they also organizes weekly activities. From reading mornings to crafts afternoons and from live concerts to food markets. For more information about these activities, current exhibitions, bookings and more, I would like to refer you to the website of the Horniman Museum.