[Skip to content] [Skip to main navigation] [Skip to user navigation] [Skip to global search] [Accessibility information] [Contact us]

Previous Next
of 522 items

The World Gallery Goes Contactless

In our efforts to raise funds towards the creation of our new World Gallery we've embraced new technology to make it even easier for our visitors to donate.

The Horniman has become one of the first museums in the UK to offer contactless donation at our new donation point which can be found near the entrance to our Natural History Gallery. 

Along with a reinvigorated text donation scheme, the innovations form the first phase of the Horniman’s public fundraising campaign in support of the new World Gallery, opening in 2018. The World Gallery will be home to a major redisplay of the Horniman’s Designated anthropology collection and, alongside a studio space housing an exciting programme of events and displays will help us fulfil the original vision of museum founder Frederick Horniman - to 'bring the world to Forest Hill’. The redisplay has secured £3.3m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Horniman is raising an additional £1.3m through grant-making bodies and donations, to complete the project.

Victoria Pinnington, Director of Communications and Income Generations, says: ‘We’re not ditching the donation boxes – they’re still a valuable source of income. But we’re keen to make it as easy as possible to support the World Gallery, and to offer as much flexibility as we can for our visitors, both on- and offline. And of course, we need to maximise our income. We decided to offer an online mechanism that sits wholly within our website, as research has shown that keeping donors on your site makes them six times more likely to support your cause. We’re hoping that this, and our new contactless donation option, will really pay off.’

Visitors can donate £1 via the contactless reader in the Museum, text ‘HORN17 £5’ to 70070 to donate £5 or give online.

The Horniman will reveal the next phase of its public fundraising campaign in autumn this year.

Goodbye Busy Bees

Our Busy Bees programme has ended for the summer but we hope you've enjoyed it as much as we have. Fear not, Busy Bees will return at 10, 10.45 and 11.30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, beginning on Tuesday 12 September, with more stories, objects, music and outdoor play. In the meantime, we hope to see you at some of our summer events.

During the school holidays, we run an exciting programme of events for families and children of all ages. Activities take place every day from Saturday 22nd July until Sunday 3rd September and full details can be found on the calendar on our website.

Some highlights from our summer programme include: 

Wednesday 26 July – Big Butterfly Count

Join Richard ‘Bugman’ Jones exploring our gardens and Nature Trail and take part in the nation’s Big Butterfly Count using spotter sheets and sweeper nets.

Wednesday 2 August – Horniman Favourites

Celebrate National Play Day by watching a traditional Punch & Judy Show and get up close to some live owls with JAMBS Owls.

Wednesday 9 August – Indian Summer  

Join us for the launch of our Big Wednesday Indian Summer programme, watch traditional Indian dance, find out how to drape a sari and listen to Indian folk tales.

  • Subrang Arts, Subrang Arts
    Subrang Arts

Specimen of the Month: The Grasshopper (Caelifera)

This month, Deputy Keeper of Natural History, Emma-Louise Nicholls, tells us all about noisy grasshoppers.

'A plague upon both your houses'

Grasshoppers are those cute, colourful, hoppy insects you may have run around in circles trying to catch as a kid. Grasshoppers are also the thing of nightmares, capable of gathering in their billions and swarming across the land, much to the chagrin of Ancient Egyptians and modern farmers alike. It is only a small number of grasshopper species that form these gargantuan, crop-decimating swarms, causing mayhem and bringing dishonour to the good name of grasshoppers worldwide, earning them the alternative name of locust.

A locust is just as much a grasshopper as any other species of grasshopper, but their gregarious phase sees them swarming in groups of up to 50 billion individuals. A swarm of this magnitude can weigh up to 79 tonnes. To give you some context, that’s more than 13 adult male African elephants, or if you’d prefer the equivalent of 10 Tyrannosaurus rexes. I’d say everything is better if the unit of measurement is dinosaurs. Locust swarms of this size will decimate the land by consuming around 192,000 tonnes every day until it dissipates. That’s 32,000 African elephants worth of crops being eaten. Or 24,000 T. rexes…either way, the take home message is it’s a good job they’re vegetarians.

  • Swarm of Locusts, This swarm of locusts was photographed in Madagascar in 2014.
    This swarm of locusts was photographed in Madagascar in 2014.

A Rhythmic Symphony

There are lots of insects that look like grasshoppers but only those within the suborder Caelifera are ‘true grasshoppers’. They’re also known as the short-horned grasshoppers which refers to their antennae length, they don’t have actual horns.

Grasshoppers make their chirping sound by rubbing a series of small pegs located on the inside of their hind legs across their forewing. In general, male grasshoppers have evolved to deploy this to greater effect than females as grasshoppers primarily use the sound to attract a mate or repel a rival. Both of which seem to be a ‘boy job’. Grasshoppers have a number of different ‘songs’ depending on what they are doing, their favourite of which, I am sure, is the ‘Copulation Song’.

The act of rubbing two body parts together is called stridulation. Whilst this fancy term is primarily used in relation to insects, some spiders and snakes also use stridulation. A few species of grasshopper take a slightly different tack and produce sound by snapping their wings together in flight, akin to the sound my knees make when I stand up after a three-hour board game. The snapping noise made by grasshoppers (and my joints) is referred to as 'crepitation'. Two great words for your next pub quiz.

If true grasshoppers decided to join forces and work out how to alter pitch and coordinate a harmony, they would have the means to rival the best orchestra in the land. It’s not particularly likely to happen anytime this side of a lot of evolution as at present, the 21st Century grasshopper can hear intensity and rhythm, but really struggles to differentiate between pitches. So they’d be pretty rubbish in the performance of all scores bar the most basic of percussion segments.

  • Robot Grasshopper, The metal parts in our giant Grasshopper means it does a lot of crepitating. The Robot Zoo exhibition is open until 29th October 2017.
    The metal parts in our giant Grasshopper means it does a lot of crepitating. The Robot Zoo exhibition is open until 29th October 2017.


A contrast of colours in our Sunken Garden

Apprentice Gardener Ian Painter, tell us about his designs and planting for our Sunken Gardens summer bedding scheme.

Hi, my name is Ian and I have been working as an apprentice Gardener at the Horniman for almost three years now.

We change our Sunken Garden bedding twice a year, with a summer and a winter bedding. This has been done for many years now, since the Gardens were redeveloped in 2012, and this year I was responsible for planning the summer display.

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, Connie Churcher
    , Connie Churcher

Both college and work have taught me a lot about bedding, so I knew that I needed to plan. To get started, I looked at previous years’ plans for inspiration and guidance, which we keep for that purpose. The measurements for the beds is 202 square metres: the two c-shaped outer beds are 68 square metres each and the middle four patches equal to 66 square metres.

When it came to choosing the plants for the bed, thinking of previous displays, the Salvia has always been a top choice as it’s highly cultivated and comes in a variety of colours. The previous Salvias we have had were two different cultivars but different shades of red: "Blaze of fire" and "forest fire" which were both very popular. Salvias are resistant to diseases, are easy to dead head and reach about 30cm tall.

I knew I definitely wanted Salvias, because I know how good they look and they are my favourite summer bedding plant, but I wanted to move away from red salvias.

I was taught that the best combinations of colours were either complementary colours or contrasting colours which are opposites on a colour wheel. White is a neutral and can go with any combination of colours.

I knew I wanted purple as my girlfriend had inspired me to use that colour, and I wanted to go with a contrast of colours, so the colour wheel led me to yellow.

With these colours in mind, I discovered a Salvia called “Salsa Purple” and used the contrast of Marigold “Yellow Boy”. I needed a third colour but struggled to find a dark orange or a baby blue to maintain the contrast, instead opting for a neutral: Cineraria “Silver dust”.

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, A bee tucking in to Salvia Salsa Purple, Connie Churcher
    A bee tucking in to Salvia Salsa Purple, Connie Churcher

Now I had my three colours and plants, I needed some height. A good dot plant for summer beddings is cannas so I got a “Tropical white” canna to sit in the purple Salvia groups and the silver Cineraria. Not only does it add the lovely green of the stem to the bed colours but it has a lovely white flower.

  • Spot planting, Connie Churcher
    , Connie Churcher

The next step was to sketch out a design. As well as it being colour co-ordinated, it shows how I wanted the plants laid out. The blue dots are the cannas.

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, The design for the Sunken Gardens, Ian Painter
    The design for the Sunken Gardens, Ian Painter

We started by rotavating the bed, which turns the soil, and added chicken manure pellets before smoothing the bed out. At this point, we measured the bed using my plan, and used bamboo sticks to mark out points, using sand to create the lines. My drawing was to the scale of 1cm = 1metre.

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, The rotavated bed with bamboo sticks that mark out the pattern, Ian Painter
    The rotavated bed with bamboo sticks that mark out the pattern, Ian Painter

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, Then the different sections were marked out in sand, Ian Painter
    Then the different sections were marked out in sand, Ian Painter

Once the marking out was done I transported the plants to the site and the planting was finished over a week.

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, You can see the pattern forming with the plants, as well as the sand marking out the scheme for when we get to that area , Ian Painter
    You can see the pattern forming with the plants, as well as the sand marking out the scheme for when we get to that area , Ian Painter

Finally, we watered the plants with a sprinkler and spread slug pellets by the box hedging. 

I’m pleased with how it has turned out. It’s caught a lot of attention and pleasant comments, so I am very proud of it. Although this post makes it sound brief, it was a lot of hard work!

  • Summer bedding in the Sunken Garden, The finished result, Ian Painter
    The finished result, Ian Painter

The other members of the team and I put our heart and soul into making the bed and would love you to visit to see our hard work. I hope you have enjoyed this blog or learned something new, and if you do visit I hope you’ll love the summer bed as much as me and the Gardens Team do. 

Farmers' Market Focus: Damaris Designs

Please introduce yourself…

My name is Damaris Copus and I am at the Horniman Farmers' Market as Damaris Designs.

What do you do at the Farmers’ Market?

I grow flowers, trees, fruit and vegetables, and make floral arrangements, wreaths and garlands, using both home-grown and foraged materials. I use pesticide free flowers, working with all the seasons and using natural forms as inspiration

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

Tell us about how you grow your produce?

I grow a lot of my materials in Polhill, Kent, in my woodland edge garden and on my large allotment. I live in Kent half the time, with my family and friends.

The garden is on a piece of land that had been used to park diggers while building the M25. As you can imagine, this left its mark and I have spent over ten years healing the land with massive amounts of homemade compost, manure from our chickens and leaf mould which we make in huge quantity.

I also have a small piece of land in mid-Wales, where our family has lived for nearly 30 years. I also use materials from here, and we mainly use the land for roses, willows, pines and many other trees.

Lastly, I often use flowers and foliage which has been grown by friends and family, or that grow in gardens that I maintain for customers. But strictly only those without pesticides, and only with owner’s permission.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

When you aren’t at our Farmers’ Market, where can we find you?

I hold workshops teaching wreath-making, and summer workshops teaching floral head dress making. My busiest time is Christmas, making and selling wreaths and holding workshops, but I never have a very quiet time.

Sometimes I take to the road at fairs and festivals and sell woodcarvings made by my family and friends, chestnut arches, hazel plant supports and arts and crafts. I love to pick up interesting artisan objects on my travels, which I use to display plants and flowers, and I often have baskets or pots for sale, depending on where I have been camped and who I have met.

I sometimes design or maintain gardens for clients, and I will only accept work which falls in with my basic principles of natural (and sometimes wild) growing.

I work on my gardens and woods whenever I can; sometimes every day for a week but often just a few hours, 3 or 4 times a week. My garden style might best be described as relaxed and naturalistic, but this still involves a lot of work!

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus


Why is being pesticide free important to you?

I work in a way that reflects my available time and my principles. Having worked on many farms over the years, I know that biodynamic and organic growing produces great results, but I don't align myself to their movements exclusively. In practice, this means that I would never use pesticide, industrially produced fertiliser or herbicides.

I have great results using only homemade fertilisers: comfrey and nettle juice used sparingly, for instance. I also recycle materials such as tyres to build beds, rather than buying new products. I try to garden in tune with the moon and I am very 'low impact' on my environment in terms of water use, as we collect and store rainwater to use. This careful use of water is in marked contrast to some conventional growers, who are heavy users of both natural and industrial resources.

I have always grown in this way, influenced by my mother who is a great believer in the importance of compost and is a defender of bees. We need insects to feed birds and poison will kill good and bad insects indiscriminately. We are all part of the same living system and I would love to leave a better and healthier world for my own and other children.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

What does being part of the Horniman mean to you?

I am really thrilled to have the opportunity to trade at the Horniman. I visited the Museum and grounds a few years ago, and was very taken by it. The market is very friendly and the standard of the products available is high.

What do you enjoy doing away from the Farmers’ Market?

I make time to travel when I can and have just returned from a road trip to the flower meadows of the Apuseni Mountains, Romania. It was one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen.

On my return I was relieved to find that it had been raining in Kent, and my garden is full of fab blooms just waiting to be picked. Jim had sown the seeds that I left, so with luck I will have flowers for months to come.

  • Damaris Designs' Garden , Damaris Copus
    , Damaris Copus

Indian Summer Raffle

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is a charity, support our work and be in with a chance to win one of ten fantastic prizes.

Throughout the summer look out for ticket sellers at all our Indian Summer events or visit the Ticket Desk. Raffle tickets are just £1, or 6 for £5, with all proceeds supporting the care of our collections and Gardens.   

Tickets can be purchased at any time between Sunday 9 July and Sunday 3 September. Winners will be drawn on Monday 4 September.

All proceeds help support the work of the Horniman Museum & Gardens (Charity Registration Number 802725).

The prizes include:

Behind-the-Scenes Aquarium Tour

Join a curator for a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of our much-loved aquarium.

The tour is for up to 5 visitors and available Monday – Friday. Prize must be redeemed by 31 December 2017, dates and times subject to availability.

Find out more about the Aquarium.

Luna Cinema Tickets

Watch a film under the stars at one of Luna Cinema’s many beautiful locations. Luna Cinema is one of the country's leading producer of open air cinema events.

This experience is for 2 adults and is valid until 31 December 2017.

Find out more about Luna Cinema.

Butterfly House Tickets

Be among the first to explore the Horniman’s brand-new Butterfly House. The immersive experience will include hundreds of beautiful butterflies in a tropical indoor garden.

The winner will receive a free family ticket for two adults and two children, valid until 31 December 2017.

Find out more about the Butterfly House.

Horniman Family Membership

Enjoy a year of fantastic benefits including free entry to the Aquarium and our temporary exhibitions, and a 10% discount in our Shop.
Find out more about Membership.

£25 Sainsbury's Gift Voucher

Treat yourself to a gift or pick up your weekly essentials with this fantastic £25 Sainsbury’s gift voucher.

Valid for 1 year across all UK Sainsbury’s supermarkets. 

And much more...

Terms and Conditions

1. Closing date 03/09/2017.
2. Entry is via tickets purchased at the Horniman Museum and Gardens only. Entrants must provide details of their chosen contact method. Please keep the ticket as proof of purchase.
3. The prize winners will be chosen at random from all valid entries received by the closing date. The decision is final and non-negotiable.
4. The winner of each prize will be notified by their chosen contact method by 15/09/2017. The winners must claim the prize within two weeks or they will be considered forfeited and another draw will take place.
5. Winners may be asked to provide a photograph or to be photographed and interviewed to provide a quote about winning in order to help promote future fundraising.
6. Entrants must be over 16 and resident in UK.
7. No cash alternative.
8. Prizes are non-transferable.
9. The Horniman Museum and Gardens reserves the right to substitute the prizes with a prize of similar value at its own discretion.
10. The Horniman Museum & Gardens reserves the right to withdraw or amend the raffle as necessary due to circumstances outside its control.
11. By entering the raffle, all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these rules.
12. Employees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, their agencies and other companies directly involved in the running of the raffle are not permitted to enter.
13. The competition is run by the Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, London SE23 3PQ


We are committed to protecting your privacy in line with the Data Protection Act. The data you have supplied will be held securely. We will not share this information with any third party without your consent.

Thank you for supporting the Horniman.

Muddy Bees is back

With our outdoor play session returning Wednesday 5 July and Tuesday 26 September, volunteer Gemma Murray provides us with some great ideas how you can have some messy but manageable fun at home.

Muddy Bees is an outdoor play session for under 5s run by the Horniman throughout the summer months and there are two more sessions left for this year: Wednesday 5 July and Tuesday 26 September.

Since we are lucky enough to have our wonderful Gardens at the Horniman Muddy Bees takes place on a grand scale. With a massive water butt, several tables, and tonnes of pots and pans, we can offer you sand, water, mud pie making, and lots of messy fun.

However, often parents will ask us for ways to replicate our games in the more confined spaces of their own homes and gardens. So here are my top five outdoor game ideas, be warned though, there's always bound to be a little mess.

Plant Sprayer Shootout

Set up a series of targets around your garden, this could be anything from plastic cups and bottles to something as simple as a sheet of paper with a target drawn on it. Arm each child with a plant sprayer and see if they can hit the targets. Older kids will have to stand further back than younger ones in the interest of fairness. Watch out, there's a high chance that this could spill over to a fully fledged water fight.

Water Drawing

Another one that makes use of plant sprayers, but a clean set of paint brushes and a pot of water works just as well. This one couldn't be simpler, just let your little ones loose on whatever surface they can find. Fences, patios, and walls will all become blank canvases for them to express themselves on, and you could end up with a clean patio for their troubles too.


Chalk can look rather tasty so make sure nothing ends up in your kids' mouths, but, like water, chalk offers a chance for children to express their artistic sides with minimal cleanup so drawing on pretty much anything goes. 

Water Trays

Make your own paddling pools with just a tub of water. This works very well with babies but big brothers and sisters will probably want a piece of the action too. Adding food colouring to the water can prove an interesting experiment for older kids who want to see what colours they can mix together but can lead to bright blue fingers leaving their mark. 


Gather up ingredients to brew a 'magic' potion in any waterproof container you can find. Sticks, mud, leaves, petals, stones, or whatever your kids can get their hands on are sure to result in something as magical as it is messy. Last year, my kids were delighted to discover that their concoction made in a chocolate tin has transformed into a viable pond full of growing grass and little wriggly things. I was a little less thrilled when it came time to clean up.

Goodbye to the Hands on Base fox

Learning Assistant Lucy Maycock says farewell to one of our fox friends.

The time has finally come to retire our friendly old fox after nearly twenty years of service. He has been a firm favourite of visitors to our Hands on Base - young and old alike. Poised by the entrance, our fox has warmly greeted every school child, family and community group who have walked through the door, totalling thousands of people.

Over the years, he has inspired artwork, taught children about habitats, and allowed visitors to see these beautiful creatures up-close. Unfortunately, after too many hugs, kisses and pats on the back, he has grown tired and threadbare and is in need of a well-earned rest.

We’ll be sending our old friend to a new home soon - rumour has it he’s looking forward to retirement! Don’t worry though, we’ve found another furry doorman. Just a few weeks ago we received an exciting delivery of a brand new fox. Here he is, carefully wrapped up with a badger from our Handling Collection.

Our lovely new fox has now settled into his new home and is ready to greet a whole new generation of visitors. We hope you’ll all give our fluffy new fox a warm welcome; be sure to carefully stroke his velvety ears and bushy tail next time you’re in the Hands on Base.

You can visit the Hands on Base every Sunday, 11am-12.30pm, during Open for All. Let us know what you think of him, and send us your selfies on Twitter and Instagram!

Horniman Youth are Charmed and Hypnotised

Artist Rachel Emily Taylor has been working at the Horniman as part of an Arts Council Award project, Charmed & Hypnotised. The project explores the Horniman's collection of British charms and amulets.

Working alongside hypnotherapist Lorna Cordwell, with the support of Professor Giuliana Mazzoni, Rachel collaborated with members of the local community to explore the benefits of the charms through touch and hypnotic inductions. The participants were not told what the charm was before they worked with it and their experience was audio recorded.

The project allowed for the participants to think outside the standard set of meanings presented in relation to the objects. For example, rather than reading facts about the origin of the item, they could focus on the temperature of the object: was it hot or cold?

  • Image-from-Charmed-and-Hypnotised, Charmed and Hypnotised, Rachel Emily Taylor
    Charmed and Hypnotised, Rachel Emily Taylor

The audio recordings can be considered as an alternative “caption” to accompany the Horniman objects.

Listen to the hypnotic recordings.

The research was disseminated through art workshops with the Horniman Youth Panel.

The group listened to the recordings and, without seeing what the object was, drew what they thought it might be. Like a game of Telephone.

  • Image-from-Charmed-and-Hypnotised, Charmed and Hypnotised, Rachel Emily Taylor
    Charmed and Hypnotised, Rachel Emily Taylor

The artwork made during the workshop with the Horniman Youth Panel will be included in a publication and an exhibition on the project, which will take place at V22 Louise House in August 2017.

Funded through the National Lottery by Arts Council England.

Previous Next
of 522 items