Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Best Museums in #London No.12: The Horniman @HornimanMuseum

We've canvassed the London Walks guides, asking them to nominate their desert island museum and we'll be posting their responses throughout the month.

As usual, you are more than welcome to join in! Get in touch via Facebook, or Twitter or via the usual email address.

DC Editor Adam writes…

The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill features on so many of those “Hidden/Secret London” lists so beloved of journalists that it’s surely no secret any more.

Detail from the Alaskan totem pole outside the Horniman Museum

The Horniman, named for Frederick John Horniman, a 19th Century tea merchant whose personal collection forms the cornerstone of the museum, is a vivid collection of musical instruments, natural history and cultural artefacts. The collection is housed in an eccentric Arts and Crafts building set in lovely gardens – both the gardens and the museum are free of charge. Great views, too.

My favourite aspect of the museum is how it blends curation techniques both old and new.

From one angle it's a most museumy museum – it has specimens under glass and these "old school" presentation techniques do something to me, affect me in quite a delicious way: they take me back to my childhood, when ALL museums were presented in such a way. It awakens in me the childlike sensation that I'm in a place where I will learn something. A thrilling sensation.

But before I make it sound more mausoleum than museum, its traditional aspects are enlivened by a rolling programme of events and exhibitions for museum goers of all ages – and there are around 3000 pieces that can be handled by visitors. 

Here's a short video introduction…

And here's a map…

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

All three parts of our London Museums Podcast…


A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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