Main Gallery

Main Gallery




The museum was founded in 1901 by Frederick John Horniman. Frederick had inherited his father's Horniman's Tea business, which by 1891 had become the world's biggest tea trading business. The cash from the business allowed Horniman to indulge his lifelong passion for collecting, and which after travelling extensively had some 30,000 items in his various collections, ranging from natural history, cultural artefacts and musical instruments. This provided an excellent basis for this very eclectic and varied museum. In 1911, an additional building to the west of the main building, originally containing a lecture hall and library, was donated by Frederick Horniman's son Emslie Horniman. Both of the buildings were designed by Charles Harrison Townsend in the Arts and Crafts style. The Horniman specialises in anthropology, natural history and musical instruments and has a collection of 350,000 objects. The ethnography and music collections have Designated status. One of its most famous exhibits is the large collection of stuffed animals.


The museum is split into a number of displays. African Worlds is a gallery dedicated to African art and culture, celebrating the continent's diversity, history and creativity. In the Aquarium a huge variety of aquatic life can be seen, displaying the massive variation in the body shapes, colours and behaviors of animals in different habitats. You can Watch tropical butterflies fly around a living rainforest display with South American fish swimming around in the flooded waters below. Nearby see the poison dart frogs and tropical tree frogs. In the Hands on Base Gallery, you can explore thousands of fascinating objects from our Handling Collection through touching, wearing and discovering them for yourself! Much of the Handling Collection contains real objects and not reproductions, providing a special opportunity to investigate up close, collections similar to those in the other Horniman Galleries. In the Music Gallery are over 1300 objects from the Horniman's internationally renowned collection of musical instruments displayed in a breathtaking and interactive gallery. The gallery also features short films linking instruments on display to the cultures and contexts in which they are played around the world. Interactive sound tables offer the chance to listen to the sounds of your favourite instruments, and make some new discoveries, while the Hands On Space allows everyone the chance to make some music of their own. There is a nature base to discover your environment and over 16 acres of gardens. The Horniman also has temporary exhibitions such as London's Urban Jungle which relates the story of the Victorian trade in exotic animals. Museum and Gardens are fully wheelchair accessible (wheelchairs available for hire). Assistance dogs only allowed.


Location : 100 London Road, Forest Hill SE23 3PQ

Transport: Forest Hill (Overground East London Line, National Rail). London Buses routes 176, 185, 197, 356 and P4 stop near by.

Opening Times: Daily 10:30 to 17:30.

Animal Walk 12:30 to 16:00;    Nature Trail 09:00 to 16:00

Tickets : Free.

Aquarium: Adult £3.50, Children £1.50, Carer Free

Charge for special events.

Tel: 020 8699 1872