Set in 16 acres of gardens and boasting incredible panoramic views across the city, the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill is a one-of-a-kind London institution. Founded by a nineteenth-century tea trader to house his collection, today it features a wide range of exhibits and events appealing to all ages. Here are four reasons you should swing by this weekend:
This unique south London attraction was opened in 1890 by Frederick John Horniman, a Victorian tea trader and all-round eccentric adventurer. Aiming to ‘bring the world to Forest Hill’, he went travelling and collected curiosities of natural history and art from Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Burma, among other places. Originally in his private house, the collection and visitors soon overwhelmed him (and his long-suffering wife), and the current, purpose-built museum and gardens opened in 1901. Since day one, entry has been free.
There’s an enormous (over-)stuffed walrus
Arguably south London’s most famous resident, this imposing real-life specimen is over a hundred years old. It’s so fat because the bloke responsible for stuffing it didn’t know that walruses naturally have huge folds of skin, so just filled it up. It’s part of a historic collection of Victorian and Edwardian taxidermy housed in the spectacular art-nouveau setting of the Natural History Gallery. This fascinating and fearsome array of stuffed animals is not for the faint-hearted. A Bengal tiger has recently joined the crew of creatures that also features birds of paradise, badgers and wall-mounted dogs’ heads.
You can get your hands on museum artefacts…
Ever fancied getting up close and personal with stuff rather than having to peer into glass cabinets? The Horniman provides the unique opportunity to do just that! Pick up, play and try on the objects, from African masks and musical instruments to shark jaws and spices. Part of the event Hands on Base: Open for All. Sun Jul 2, 11am-12.30pm. Free.
…and enjoy a World of Stories
Hear extraordinary international tales, as talented storytellers bring the museum to life. Relax in the glorious backdrop of the beautiful museum gardens as you listen to adventures that will transport you to faraway places and the distant past. Sun Jul 2, 2pm-2.45pm and 3.15pm-4pm. Free.
The Horniman Museum is open daily 10am-5.30pm. Find out more here.