A trip to the Horniman Museum

I took a day off from studying to visit the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, South East London. The museum has been on my ‘places to visit list’ for sometime, and I was particularly looking forward to meeting its famous walrus specimen, which even has its own Twitter account.

The exterior of the Horniman Museum
The exterior of the Horniman Museum

Since rain was forecast we decided to look around the grounds of the museum before heading inside. The building is in the arts and style and was founded in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman. The wall features a mosaic called Humanity in the House of Circumstance.

Horniman bandstand and London skyline
Bandstand with London skyline

The museum has extensive gardens which include a bandstand overlooking the London skyline and some farm animals.

Alpacas at the Horniman Museum
Alpacas at the Horniman Museum

Inside, I was surprised to learn that the Horniman has an aquarium, but since our visit was short that would have to wait for another day. Instead, we looked at the extensive collections of cultural artefacts from all over the world.

Masks from a variety of cultures at the Horniman Museum
Masks from a variety of cultures

Then we visited the natural history collections which include a gallery arranged by how they are classified. I rather like this traditional approach to natural history museums and enjoyed browsing the variety of life, especially the insects!

Stag and water beetle dioramas at the Horniman Museum
Lovely stag and water beetle dioramas

From the balcony you can look down on the larger specimens including the Canadian walrus.

View from the Horniman Museum natural history gallery
View from the Horniman Museum natural history gallery

The walrus has been on display at the Horniman for over a century and is famous for having rather too much stuffing! A live walrus has lots of skin folds, but few people would have known that in the 1880s so it was over-stuffed to fill the loose skin out.

Meeting the Horniman walrus
Meeting the Horniman walrus

I highly recommend a visit to the Horniman Museum, which is free (there is a small charge for the aquarium). I will certainly be planning another visit in the summer when the gardens will be looking their best. Check their website: www.horniman.ac.uk for more information, they also have an excellent blog and Twitter feed.

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