The Horniman Museum

I have discovered a new favourite museum! Hidden away in Forest Hill, South London is a late-Victorian gem – The Horniman Museum.

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

The facade of the original Horiniman Museum building

Founded in 1901 by Victorian tea trader Frederick John Horniman, the museum contains an eclectic mix of displays including natural history, ethnology and musical instruments. The original building was designed in the Arts and Crafts style by Charles Harrison Townsend who also designed an extension opened in 1912. New buildings were again added in the 1990’s, including a grass-roofed Centre for Understanding the Environment.

Townsend's 1912 extension

Townsend’s 1912 extension

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

The CUE building (Centre for Understanding the Environment)

This is a very traditional museum with many of the natural history exhibits being slightly faded examples of the taxidermist’s art, but they are a major part the place’s charm. Other display cases contain particularly good educational explanations.

Scarlet ibis

Scarlet ibis

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Slightly faded and scruffy but still very beautiful!

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

Beautiful if slightly dusty insects abound

The museum has a vast collection of musical instruments, from ancient to modern, with many beautiful specimens.

A case of musical instruments

A case of musical instruments

One of the Benin brozes in the Africa gallery

One of the Benin bronzes in the Africa gallery

Mask

Mask

One of the delights of the Horniman is it’s freedom from the modern “sanitised” display aesthetic. Many of the ethnographic displays are housed in dark old wooden cabinets, often with an eccentric mix of items displayed side by side.

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

Model of a north-African doorway behind a case of stuffed birds

One of the fossil displays

Fossil Ichthyosaur fore-limb

A beautiful set of teeth!

A beautiful set of teeth!

Lettuce Coral

Lettuce Coral

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

One of the many fine moths and butterflys

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