Horniman Museum and Gardens

A photograph showing the Horniman Museum
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The Horniman has a unique range of exhibitions, events and activities which illustrate the cultural and natural world. Our collections of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments provide the inspiration for our programme of permanent and temporary exhibitions and events and activities. A full range of events and activities take place for different audiences including storytelling and art and craft sessions for children, and courses and workshops for adults.

This museum has Designated Collections of national importance.

Venue Type:

Museum, Garden, parklands or rural site

Opening hours

Open daily: 1030-1730

Admission charges

Free admissiont to Museum & Gardens.
Charge for Aquarium and some temporary exhibitions and events.

Additional info

Our library is open to the public by appointment only.

The Ethnography and Music collections are Designated Collections of national importance.

The Museum holds in total some 350,000 objects and related items. The Horniman has three main collections, World Cultures (Ethnography) comprising 80,000 objects, Natural History with 250,000 specimens, and Music with over 7,000 instruments plus 1,000 archive documents. There is also a parallel education handling collection which has over 3,700 objects drawn from all three main disciplines and a library collection with texts and related items covering the main collection areas.

The Museum also has an active collecting policy with regular fieldwork to acquire new objects and to find out more about existing ones carried out by curators. Over 90% of the collections of Ethnography and Music have been acquired since the original bequest by Frederick Horniman in 1901. Most objects not currently on display are held in storage at the Museum's Study Collection Centre in Greenwich, while the Museum also loans objects to other institutions for exhibitions.

Collection details

World Cultures, Weapons and War, Social History, Science and Technology, Photography, Performing Arts, Natural Sciences, Music, Decorative and Applied Art, Costume and Textiles, Coins and Medals, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Designated Collection
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
photograph of musical instrument

Music Gallery

  • 1 January 2014 — 1 January 2016 *on now

Over 1300 instruments from the Horniman's internationally renowned collection can be seen in the Music Gallery. Its breathtaking display spans a wide range of instruments from around the world, making up the largest number on display in the UK.

The gallery also features short films linking instruments on display to the cultures and contexts in which they are played around the world.

Interactive sound tables offer the chance to listen to the sounds of your favourite instruments, and make some new discoveries, while the Hands On Space allows everyone the chance to make some music of their own.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly



At Home with Music

  • 1 July 2014 — 31 December 2015 *on now

Visit our new permanent display of keyboard instruments. This display explores domestic keyboards from the past five centuries that were brought into homes from parlours to palaces and brings together highlights of the keyboard instrument collections from the Horniman and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The display includes organs, harpsichords, pianos and clavichords and features rare and beautiful instruments.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly




  • 10 July — 6 December 2015 *on now

Bloom is a display of artworks by Edward Chell, a series of detailed painted plant silhouettes inspired by plants, and images of plants, in the Horniman's Gardens and historic collection.

Painted onto individual gesso panels, and accompanied by other related objects he has made, Edward's images will be shown alongside some of the artefacts that inspired them.

The 40 panels respond to a set of the Horniman's rare books by 19th-century British naturalist and early photographer Anna Atkins, looking at these in relation to plants in both living and dried form in the Museum's archives. Chell's panels link the blue of Atkins' cyanotypes, or 'sunprints', to the blue and white china so prevalent in the 18th and 19th centuries.

One of these books, which document British algae and are widely recognised as the first to be published with photographic illustrations, will be on display with other pieces from the Horniman's collections.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Animal Kingdon

  • 26 September 2015 — 6 March 2016 *on now

Collection of mesmerising Natural History images by artist Jim Naughten, brought to three-dimensional life through stereoscopic photography.

The display features 11 pairs of striking photographs of mounted skeletons and wet specimens including a Great Indian Hornbill, an Atlantic White Spotted Octopus, a Red Faced Spider Monkey and a Transparent Chameleon.

Each set is photographed from a right-eye and left-eye perspective which, when viewed with a stereoscopic viewer, gives the illusion of being three-dimensional.

Naughten's photographs are fascinating when viewed in two dimensions but are transformed and brought to life through stereoscopy – a technique developed in the 1800s to create the illusion of viewing images in three dimensions.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Project Tobong

  • 3 October 2015 — 10 April 2016 *on now

This stunning series of portraits are the result of a collaborative project by British artist Helen Marshall and Indonesian artist Risang Yuwono.

The photographs capture the Ketoprak Tobong Kelana Bakti Budaya, one of the last remaining nomadic theatre troupes in Yogyakarta, Java.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Collected and Possessed

  • 28 November 2015 — 24 January 2016 *on now

Mark Fairnington is a British painter whose work explores the lineage of animal and plant painting, and its relation to how humans understand the natural world.

He has been exploring the natural history specimens at the Horniman over the past five years
looking into hidden spaces in our collection and painting the objects he has found.

Like many museums, most of our collection is not on public display – thousands of objects are kept boxed and wrapped in storage.

Suitable for

  • Any age



Horniman Museum and Gardens
100 London Road
Forest Hill
Greater London
SE23 3PQ






020 8699 1872


020 8291 5506

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.