"Firm favourite" overstuffed walrus to leave Horniman for Turner Contemporary holiday

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 December 2012
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A photo of a large stuffed walrus being cleaned by a conservator inside a museum
A spot of walrus cleaning at the Horniman© Magnus Addisson, South London Press

A giant overstuffed walrus, poised in the Natural History Gallery at Forest Hill’s majestic Horniman Museum and Gardens for more than a century, will return to the sea on a one-off tour to Margate’s Turner Contemporary next summer.

The sturdy mammal – described as “a firm favourite” with visitors since taking up position in the gallery in 1901 – is expected to be given a fond farewell before heading to Kent as part of a Hayward Touring exhibition.

It is the only time the exhibit has moved since the 1980s, when it travelled 25 feet from a glass case to its current ice floe mount.

“We’re making careful preparations, and working with specialist art handlers, to ensure the walrus’s safety during his trip to Margate,” Jo Hatton, the Horniman’s Keeper of Natural History, assured fans of the flippered marvel.

“Although he’ll be missed, we’re planning some great temporary exhibits to stand in for him in the Natural History gallery until he’s back with us.”

Director Janet Vitmayer said organisers were “delighted” by the excursion.

“This is his first outing from the Horniman,” she reflected.

“Loaning objects and artworks is an important part of the work of all museums and galleries, and we’re glad to give visitors to Turner Contemporary the chance to enjoy one of our most popular exhibits in a new context.”

Visitors will still be able to see the walrus before it makes its move in mid-May. The exhibition, Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, opens in Margate on May 25 2013.

More pictures:

A photo of a large stuffed walrus on top of an icy mount inside a natural history gallery
The walrus has moved "no more than 25 feet" since 1901
A black and white photo of the inside of a large natural history museum of stuffed animals
How the display looked in 1938
A photo of a large modern natural history museum with a stuffed walrus at its centre
The sleek modern Horniman's array of wondrous cabinets© Joel Knight
A photo of a large stuffed brown walrus with huge white teeth looking upwards
Turner Contemporary will position the walrus as a key piece in its summer display of curiosities
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