The Horniman, South London: from family home to museum of curiosities

6/21/2019 9:24:01 AM
Daniela Lucaci
The Horniman, South London: from family home to museum of curiosities
Fantasic For Families
  • Image Credit: Daniela Lucaci

Last week we were lucky enough to visit the Horniman Museum & Gardens. Based in Forest Hillsouth London, the Horniman has great displays of anthropology, natural history and musical instruments. Plus a weird and wonderful collection of taxidermied animals. 

The tea merchant and philanthropist Frederick J Horniman travelled the world over, collecting objects and curiosities. His hobby took up so much space in the family home that his wife reportedly said ‘either the collection goes or we do’. And so the Horniman Museum was born, according to a highly unique neo-classical design. It opened in 1901, fulfilling Fred's mission to 'bring the world to Forest Hill’. 

Experiences, such as visiting a museum, can also become a meaningful part of our identity and contribute to successful social relationships between children and parents, in a manner that material items cannot. And this is Fantastic For Family aim: to engage and make families spend more time together by offering quality artistic content and experiences. 


Our first stop at the Horniman Museum was at the Butterfly House. The very friendly staff guided us to a specially-planted habitat that is the perfect place for these beautiful creatures. We loved the way they were flying all around us, and discovered a few interesting facts about them. 


 Did you know that butterflies taste with their feet? Or that they drink from muddy puddles 

At the Horniman Museum you can see butterflies from all over the world! 

Next stop, the Aquarium(see header image)- one of our favourite parts of our visitGorgeous coral, wriggly jellyfish, mysterious creatures of the deep! The colours and body shapes were enchanting and endlessly fascinating, keeping adults just as captivated as the little ones. 


Now for the highlight – who doesn’t love Lego (whatever your age!) We learnt so much about the world through the vast array of brick creationsdiscover the secrets behind the world’s architectural wonders, such as the pyramids. The kids loved the interactive play areas where they could create your own works of art based on our natural environment. 

We asked the Horniman why they thought families should give them a try:  

“There is so much for families of all ages to see and do - see our collection up-close and face-to-face in our Hands on Base activities. You can even pick up, try on and play with some of our objects. From our Animal Walk to our storytelling events, from the popular Sound Garden to our overstuffed walrus, there is something for everyone. Also, at the moment our family friendly exhibition is Brick Wonders, which includes interactive play areas as well as more than 50 model creations.” 

All in all, a thumbs up from us and we can officially say that the Horniman is #FantasticforFamilies. Have you been? Let us know what you thought. 


The Brick Wonders exhibition runs until 27th October 2019 and costs £18 for a Family Ticket (whilst entry to the majority of the museum is free) 

Find out more about what’s on at the Horniman Museum here.

Discover other events near you here.

Daniela Lucaci

Daniela Lucaci, is doing a digital placement at the Family Arts Campaign.She is currently undergraduate studying Theatre and Film Production at Brunel University London.

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