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The Horniman Museum’s new gallery contains the entire world*

Written by
Rosemary Waugh

(*Okay, not quite the entire world…)

London’s Horniman Museum in Forest Hill opens its new World Gallery on June 29 and it contains some truly extraordinary exhibits. The aim of the gallery is to share stories from cultures across the globe - from all countries in all time periods. There are dedicated areas for Africa, the Americas, Asia, Oceania and Europe, plus videos of a wide selection of people talking about the personal significance of an exhibit to them.

It’s all highly educational, meticulously planned and is the latest addition to a museum that’s worth visiting for its beautiful gardens alone. But you don’t have to venture far into the new displays before stumbling upon some genuinely astonishing objects.

Here are some items you’ll not want to miss:

Defecating man

Nativity scenes are usually adorable little worlds celebrating the birth of Christ. But in southern Europe, they... aren’t. This poopin’ Peter is a popular figure over there, maybe because sometimes life’s a bit shit.

Mole's Foot

Lucky rabbit feet are ten a penny, but lucky moles’ feet less so. This teeny tiny object was carried by English labourers in the hope it would help them avoid cramp.

Japanese Dolphin Skull

This lacquered bonce of a much-loved aquatic mammal was once the must-have ornament for wealthy gentlemen to pass the time gazing idly upon. (Luckily, it’s now very much not the fashion to murder marine wildlife and paint its body parts).  

Anatomical Figure of a Pregnant Woman

Anatomical Venuses (as these life-like wax models of women once used in surgical schools were known) are one of the creepiest things to have ever existed. Ever. The one in the Horniman allows you to remove its intestines to reveal a foetus in the womb below.

Husky shoes

Even huskies get cold paws sometimes. Or at least, they could do with a little extra protection. These Inuit rawhide shoes for a dog are one of the ‘awww’ moments of the gallery.

The World Gallery opens at the Horniman Museum on June 29. Click here for more details.

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