Forest Hill

United Kingdom

Horniman Museum, 100 London Road
SE23 3PQ
Phone: 020 8699 1872

Horniman Museum

Situated in 16 acres of award-winning gardens the Horniman Museum 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.

 Permanent Collection Highlights (1)

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Permanent Collection

The Horniman has three main collections, Anthropology (Ethnography [80,000 objects] and Archaeology [10,000]) comprising 80,000 objects, Natural History with 250,000 specimens, and Musical Instruments with over 7,000 instruments plus 1,000 archive documents.

The collections have been recognised as being of national importance with the Ethnography and Musical Instrument collections having Designated status.


African Worlds
The first permanent exhibition in Britain dedicated to African art and culture, African Worlds celebrates the continent's diversity, history and creativity.

Dive into an underwater world and discover an exciting glimpse into underwater habitats showing dynamic ecosystems from around the world.

Centenary Gallery: 100 Years of Collecting
The anthropology collection has a new permanent space in the newly opened Centenary Gallery.

Hands On Base
Over 3,700 objects from the Horniman's fascinating handling collection are available in a new dynamic and interactive hands-on centre.

Musical Instruments Gallery
The Horniman's internationally renowned collection of musical instruments is now displayed in a dynamic new gallery.

Natural History
A fascinating collection, which retains its unique Victorian feel with mammal, bird, fish and insect exhibits in their original cases.

Exhibitions (1)

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Forthcoming exhibitions

Great White Bear
Sat 21 Oct 2006 – Sun 25 March 2007
Enjoy 34 intriguing photographs exploring our fascination with polar bears. Based on Mark Wilson and Bryndis Snaebjornsdottir's project nanoq: flat out and bluesome.

Khmer Silks
Fri 14 April 2006 - Sun 25 Feb 2007
Experience beautiful Buddhist textiles from Cambodia.

Sound Designs: The Story of Boosey and Hawkes
New permanent display now open
Discover the important contribution to music that instrument makers Boosey and Hawkes made in this new permanent display of wind instruments, including an eye-catching glass flute from 1816, a silver trumpet belonging to Queen Victoria's head trumpeter and early designs of instruments that were the foundation of the British BrassBand tradition.

Thai Film Posters
Sat 6 Jan – Sun 4 Feb 2007
Explore the unique art form of Thialand's film posters, in this exhibition showing Thai versions of films from Hollywood, Europe and Japan in the 1940s to 1980s.

Wrapping Japan
Sat 31 March 2007 – Sun 10 Feb 2008
From simple indigo-dyed farmer's coats to sumptuous silk kimonos, rope sandals to ladies' platform shoes, discover the costumes of Japan and reveal the technical artistry and elegance of these textiles.

Journey Through Japan
Sat 31 March 2007 – Sun 11 Nov 2007
Travel through the stunning landscapes of Japan in the early 1900s through the intricate and beautiful photographic lantern slides of that era.


Admission to the Horniman Museum is free.

Opening hours

Open daily 10:30am - 5:30pm

Getting there

Situated on the South Circular Road (A205), 5–10 minutes walk up from Forest Hill train station.

Parking available in the surrounding streets

Public transport links
London Buses
176, 185, 197, 356, P4 (stop outside) 122, 363, P13 (stop nearby)

London Rail
13 minutes by train from London Bridge. Other direct train services from New Cross Gate, London Victoria, Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Sutton and Purley.


Overlooking the 16 acres of Gardens and the Victorian conservatory, the café is the perfect place to finish off a visit to the Horniman.

The shop offers a range of postcards and souvenirs to take away as a momento of your visit.

Cloakroom, toilets and baby changing facilities all available.

The Horniman's extensive reference library holds nearly 30,000 titles on ethnography (world cultures), natural history and musical instruments.

The Horniman library holds a broad range of books from specialist publications for researchers, to texts that can be used by children for researching their homework, to books for teachers and for university students.

The Museum and the Gardens are both wheelchair and pushchair friendly with accessible toilets. Limited on-site car parking is available for disabled visitors – call 020 8699 1872 for details.

Museum internal and external photos (1)

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News and events

Great White Bear: Artist Talk
Thurs 1 March 8–9.30pm
Meet artists Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson as they discuss their project nanoq: flat out and bluesome, where they traced every taxidermied polar bear in UK collections.
Free admission: call 020 8291 8168 or email to reserve tickets.

Glimpses of the Wonderful - Phillip Henry Gosse
Thurs 22 Feb 1– 2pm
Acclaimed biographer Ann Thwaite gives a fascinating insight into the Victorian naturalist, artist and marine biologist who invented the word aquarium and was at the heart of the Victorian conflict between science and religion.
Tickets: £3.50 Tel: 020 8699 5909 or email

Unwrapping the Japanese Collection
Thurs 15 March 1–2pm
Discover more about the Horniman's stunning Japanese
collection with Dr Fiona Kerlogue, as she reveals more about her research from two new Japanese exhibitions opening Sat 31 March
Tickets: £3.50
Tel: 020 8699 5909 or email


Entrance charges
Entrance to the Museum and Gardens is FREE. A charge is made for some temporary exhibitions.

Events and activities
To find out about current events and activities, visit the events pages.

The sixteen acres of Horniman Gardens were part of the original bequest from Frederick Horniman, and were first opened to the public in 1895. Both the Gardens and the Museum are owned by the Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Charitable Trust.

The mosaic on the London Road elevation of the original building was designed by Robert Anning Bell and created over 210 days by a team of (mostly) young women during the construction period (1898-1901). The neo-classical design "Humanity in the house of circumstance" symbolises personal limitations, and the fruit and flowers glimpsed beyond it, personal aspirations. The gates at either end are birth and death, and the figures represent Arts, Poetry, Music, Endurance, Humanity, Love, Hope, Charity, Wisdom, Meditation, and Resignation. There are more than 117,000 tesserae in the panel which is 10' high and 32' long.

Museum origins
The Horniman Museum was founded by Victorian tea trader, Member of Parliament and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman (1835-1906). Son of John Horniman who founded the well known Horniman tea business, Frederick Horniman worked industriously for the family company while starting the collections in the 1860s. In 1884, the collections were made available to view by the public by appointment at Horniman's residence Surrey House (on the site of the current Museum) and the first public opening was in 1888. The Horniman family moved to Surrey Mount which stood on the top of...+ [ Read all ]


The Museum's wide range of collections and Gardens uniquely illustrate the breadth of the World's natural and cultural diversity, and can be a powerful resource and stimulus for all styles of exploration and learning by all visitors.

The Education Section offers a range of learning opportunities for all visitors to choose from, whether you wish to spend ten minutes doing a discovery trail or listening to a story, or much longer on an object handling session or even a term length course. Our Community Education and Schools' Education Teams are developing new programmes as more of the collections are being shown in the galleries or online. Please use menu to find out more.

School groups, community groups, or individual visitors can design their own learning experiences using the Museum's learning packs and trails for each of the galleries. Additional information about the collections can be found in the Exhibitions section of this site or by visiting the library in the Museum.

The extensive Education Handling Collection is now housed in a purpose designed space, the Hands On Base, where groups can engage with objects through handling and using multiple senses, making learning memorable and highly enjoyable.


The Community Education Team at the Horniman Museum & Gardens aims to provide a stimulating service in response to the specific needs of all community groups (from age 3+). Whatever the particular interests, abilities and learning needs of your group, we encourage you to contact Community Education to discuss how your group can benefit from the many facilities and resources available.


The Horniman Museum galleries and Gardens are an ideal resource for all schools, providing a wealth of opportunities for cross curricular approaches and studies, but in particular studies focusing on Citizenship, PSHE, History, Art and Design, and Science.

The multi-cultural nature of the collections links particularly well with the curriculum's cultural development aims for pupils and with aspects of global and local Citizenship.

Teachers can choose from a range of curriculum linked talks illustrated with handling objects or choose to lead their own class visit to the galleries using ideas from the gallery learning packs and trails. Information on the exhibitions and collections is also available from the Exhibitions section of the site, or by visiting the library.

The galleries are fully accessible please call or email for details and certain exhibits and booked talks are particularly suitable for children with special needs.

The Schools' Education Team also hold termly INSET programmes which demonstrate how the site can be used to support different aspects of the National Curriculum.


Hands on Family Workshops
Explore a different theme each weekend, from toys and masks to puppets, animals and Africa. Each session starts with a short introductory talk. These sessions provide an opportunity for parents and children to discover together.
Free admission

Hands On Music
Sat 3, 24 Feb 10, 24 March 2.30–3.15pm or 3.45–4.30pm
Come and learn about musical instruments from around the world. Enjoy a lively and interactive presentation exploring a variety of different instruments, with the chance to play some of the instruments yourself!
Free admission


There are lots of free activities for children, including Arts & Craft sessions. Call 020 8699 1872 for up the minute programming information.

Enjoy the new Under 5's Book Zone, bringing to life our collections and exhibitions through an exciting range of books, and creating a special space where families can read together.

Open every day, children can drop in any time but must be accompanied by an adult. Upstairs in the Natural History Gallery by the Apostle Clock. (Accessible by the lift). Seating is limited.

FREE Every day 10.30am - 5.30pm

The Cha Cha Cha for Children! with Mandacaru Dance Theatre
Every Saturday from 13 January
3 – 3.45pm
Learn Latin American dance steps from Samba to Salsa, and
Brazilian carnival styles with an end of term presentation for families.
Education Centre
£30/£15 (concs) 10 sessions (no class on Saturday 17 Feb)

For children aged 5–8. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Book in advance.

African Drumming for Children aged 5–12
Every Sunday from 14 January
10.30 – 11.15am
With Nzinga Dance Ensemble including termly concert.
Education Centre
£20 10 sessions (no class on Sun 18 Feb)

African Dance for Families with Children aged 5–12
Every Sunday from 14 Jan
11.15 – 12pm
With Nzinga Dance Ensemble including termly concert.
Education Centre
£20 10 sessions (no class on Sun 18 Feb)

Children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult. For enquiries and bookings contact Nzinga Dance on 020 8314 5328 or e-mail or by post to PO Box 36992, London SE6 4WH.+ [ Read all ]


Once a month become a Garden Volunteer and work with the Gardens Staff to find out more about what is involved in running sixteen acres of award winning Gardens. Every first Saturday of the month at 9am.

African and Caribbean Drumming and Dance with Nzinga Dance Ensemble

African Drumming for Adult Beginners and Improvers
Every Sunday from 14 January
12.30 – 1.45pm
(no class Sunday 18 February)
Education Centre
£50/£30 (concs) 10 sessions

African Drumming for Adult Intermediates
Every Tuesday from 16 January
6.30 – 7.45pm
(no class Tuesday 13 February)
Music Performance Space
£50/£30 (concs) 10 sessions

African and Caribbean Dance for Adult Beginners and Improvers
Every Tuesday from 16 January
7.45 – 9pm
(no class Tuesday 13 February)
Music Performance Space
£50/£30 (concs) 10 sessions

For enquiries and bookings contact Nzinga Dance on 020 8314 5328, e-mail or PO Box 36992, London SE6 4WH

Salsa with Mandacaru Dance Theatre
Every Tuesday from 16 January
(no class Tuesday 13 February)
‘, dos, tres, un pasito para tras'. An opportunity for beginners and improvers alike to learn the technique of this vibrant and contagious dance.
Gallery Square £50/£30 (concs) 10 sessions

Tango Argentina with Mandacaru Dance Theatre
Every Tuesday from 16 January
7.45 – 8.45pm
(no class Tuesday 13 February)
The decadent music and intricate moves of this dance will transport you to the nightlife of Buenos Aires, releasing your passion within! For beginners and improvers.
Gallery Square £50/£30 (concs) 10 sessions

NB. Please do n...+ [ Read all ]


Joining the Friends, becoming a Horniman Benefactor, remembering the Horniman in your Will, or making a gift in memory of a relative or friend are all valuable ways you can support our ongoing work. If you would like to know more about helping the Horniman in these other ways give the Development team a call on (020) 8291 8699 or email

Venue hire

The Horniman Museum and the adjoining sixteen acres of Gardens provide a unique venue for entertaining and special events, and for commercial filming and photography. Call 020 8699 1872 for more information.