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Your messages in the World Gallery

In the World Gallery you can discover what it means to be human but we also ask what is important to you. We’ve rounded up some of the messages and thoughts visitors left across January.

Have you left a wish, or said thank you on our Cloutie Tree? Below are a few of our visitors’ most recent messages.

I wish for prosperity and positivity in 2019. Speak what you want in existence and believe that it will come true.

I wish to get healthy again.

I wish for a digger, a giraffe, and a pirate ship.

Keep pushing on.


In January, many wish for wellbeing and set goals for the coming year. We’ve put together a guide to walking the Horniman, its architecture and some of the surprises in the Museum to help get your new year off to a great start.

One visitor said, Daffodils remind me of my mum, water and they trumpet in the Gardens.

Daffodils will certainly be back in the Gardens in a few weeks and from 28 January, the Gardens will be open until 5.20pm.

Carmen wishes for peace and freedom for Venezuela.

It was Penguin Awareness Day on 20 January and one visitor has drawn a lovely pair of penguins. You can keep up with up to date news and facts on our twitter feed.

One visitor lost their Johnny Rocket necklace with their son's name and D.O.B on it in Crete. We hope it finds its way back to you.

And happy 40th birthday to Katie, who drew this shark.

Keep sharing your thoughts and drawings with us in the World Gallery and you may be featured on the blog.

What is important to you?

At the Horniman there are several ways to interact with our collections and exhibits. We asked visitors what objects were important to their lives and what plants would think of humans.

We asked visitors what they thought was important to them. Some people drew special gifts given to them and others drew family members and objects from the museum.

One visitor said that their items gain more sentiment with experience and some are important because of where they came from.

They listed:

  • Old hiking boots
  • A violin played for 22 years 
  • A pair of trousers that are always worn
  • Their grandma’s wallet
  • A hat from a sporting event.
  • A good luck note from a friend.

Another visitor drew their teddy bear necklace from Grandma Phyllis

For thousands of years, people have tied scraps of fabric to trees that grow near sacred wells or springs. In the British Isles, they are sometimes called cloutie wells. Each piece of fabric is a wish for well-being or says thank you for something good that has happened. In the World Gallery, we have a cloutie tree for visitors to write their thoughts.

Here are a few thoughts some of our visitors left on the tree.

Hanifa asked for a comfy husky dog.

Another visitor was thankful for their body that allows them to run.

When you visit the World Gallery, be sure to leave your wishes and thoughts on our cloutie tree.

The Lore of the Land exhibition by Serena Korda and the Collective asks us to question our relationship with our natural environment. We asked visitors what they thought plants would think of us.

Ellie wrote a poem titled Beautiful, over-complicated Messes

If plants could see

I feel you would agree

They say we’d miss the point entirely.

If we were they

And they were we

It won’t seem such a mystery.

Slow down, be present, enjoy now.

Amelia wrote:

Plants would think we are unique and special because we’re not like them. We don’t have stems or petals.

I don’t think they would be happy whilst we’d be taking up the spotlight and they would look up at us.

Be sure to keep sharing your thoughts with us or tag #Horniman to share your images.

Our Youth Takeover Late

Was it a world of perfection, or a twisted reality? Did you join us for our Dystopian Paradise?

The Horniman Youth Panel took over the Museum recently, as part of Kids in Museums takeover day. 

The evening was organised by young people - our Horniman Youth Panel - for young people aged 14-19.

This year’s Youth Late featured DJs, live bands, a rap performance, several dance performances and a theatre production. In total almost fifty performers took part in the evening, all 14-19 years old.

The Horniman Youth Panel created experimental audio pieces for the Museum entrance, and which played alongside the Silent Disco in the Natural History Gallery. 

  • Musicians and performers at the Youth Late, Performer at the Youth Late
    Performer at the Youth Late

But what did the young people who came think of the takeover? 

All of the acts were so good, I want to perform next year.

The lights looked amazing!

I loved the silent disco, being among all the animals was strangely fun.

The dancers were my highlight, they were so professional.

  • Musicians and performers at the Youth Late, Musicians at the Youth Late
    Musicians at the Youth Late

Find out more about the Horniman Youth Panel.

Wildlife photography - your winner

You voted for your favourite photo from our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and we reveal the winner...

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was really popular this winter. 

When coming to see the exhibition, visitors were asked to pick which photo was their favourite and leave their comments on a card. 

It was a close call. All of the photographs received at least one vote from the public and there were only a few votes between the top winners. 

We can now exclusively reveal the top three most popular photographs as chosen by our visitors are...

*atmospheric pause*

In third place, the graceful 'Wild European Lynx' by Laurent Geslin.

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin
    'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

I was drawn to those big eyes and can just imagine him on his long prowls in the night. 

I really like the way the deep sky is captured in the background and how the photographer spent a long time to capture this. 

The contrast, the composition, the elusiveness of the subject. 

In second place, the characterful 'Lightness' by Matteo Lonati. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Lightness', Matteo Lonati
    'Lightness', Matteo Lonati

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It is simple and yet still beautiful.

I like the way the owl is standing to attention like a soldier.

A very arresting photo.

It looks like Hedwig. 

The winner of the public vote is the excellent 'Shadow Walker' by Richard Peters. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It has a beautiful atmosphere.

It reflects the nature in London.

It says so much about the life of the fox - not in shot, he is the hidden king of the urban jungle. 

Because it captures wildlife in an urban setting and reminds us of its presence and beauty. 

Congratulations Richard for winning the public vote as well as the overall competition. 

You can read more about wildlife photography in our interviews with the photographers from this exhibition on our blog

Wildlife photography - your views

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has been very popular this winter, with people of all ages coming to see the 84 extraordinary photographs on display. 

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to fill out a card where they voted for their favourite photo and gave a reason why. 

Next week we will be announcing who came first, second and third in our visitor vote, but until then, here are some of our favourite responses so far: 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

It is brutal, other worldly, ancient, timeless. Somehow both alien and godlike. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland
    'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland

The photographer has really captured the lioness's expression and the way the water is spraying is excellent.

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Wink', Ingo Arndt
    'Wink', Ingo Arndt

Extremely flirtatious and seductive, like a Spanish dancer or the seducing dance of tango. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali
    'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali

A magical look into a micro world

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev
    'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev

It tells a story in a really inventive way. Being upside down makes it magical, compelling, mysterious and majestic!

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit
    'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit

Sometimes the things on our doorstep can be the most interesting. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

It connects you somehow with a night story happening next to you that you don't know about. It's just outside. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri
    'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri

There are many amazing photos in this exhibition. This one is my favourite because it is a common animal in an amazing situation and it is the only animal with a mohican hairstyle. 

Read our series of interviews with the photogrpahers from this exhibition on our blog

Send us your own wildlife photography by tagging your photos #horniman on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

Travellers' tails

Inspired by the Travellers' Tails project, we asked our visitors, 'Where would you like to explore?'

Since March, our Natural History Gallery has been home to the Travellers' Tails display. This display brings together the first European painting of an Australian animal, 'The Kongouro from New Holland' by George Stubbs, alongside the Horniman's taxidermy mount of an Eastern Grey Kangaroo and describes Captain's Cook's first voyage to the Pacific, where he encountered new landscapes, people, plants and animals. 

The Travellers' Tails project is a collaboration between five museums investigating the history of exploration, art and science. It brings together artists, scientists, explorers and museum professionals to investigate the nature of exploration in the Enlightenment era, how the multitude of histories can be explored and experienced in a gallery, heritage and museum setting, and to question what exploration means today.

Inspired by Travellers' Tails, we asked our visitors and our online audience to share their thoughts on exploration. The four questions we asked were: Where would you like to explore? What is left to explore? Exploration is... and My favourite explorer is...

We recieved some interesting answers. Some wanted to explore places they had never been to before. 

Some wanted to travel to hot countries, and some to cold. 

Some people wanted to go back in time to explore earth when the dinosaurs were alive. 

Many people suggested that still left to explore was the deepest oceans and outer space. 

Have you got a burning desire to explore somewhere? Who is your favourite explorer? Tweet us with the hashtag #TravellersTails to share your stories. 

Farewell to African Summer

Our African Summer season of events came to an end this weekend with Africarnival.

Over the summer, we've had 4 jazz picnics, around 50 groups from all around Africa performing, nearly 700 people attending Africa Late, and 73 people talking part in Africarnival's parade.

Here are a selection of tweets and photos from our visitors showing how much they enjoyed our events.

Take a Tea Trail

We have been working on an innovative digital project along with Europeana: Food and Drink, creating a webapp that will allow users to explore collections, historical sites and London venues all on the theme of tea.

The app is split into three trails that can be followed or used to give you an original idea for a London visit. The three trails are:

A history of tea

A look at how tea first arrived in London, how society took to having a cuppa and the development of tea cultivation.

Tea around the world

Tea is enjoyed around the world and in many different forms, this trail covers some of the many tea drinking customs that can be enjoyed in London.

Afternoon tea

The tea institution that is Afternoon Tea has a fascinating history that started over  200 years ago, from traditional Earl Grey to contemporary tea blends, we have gathered some of London’s most famous and secret tea serving venues.

The Horniman Musuem and Gardens were founded by a tea merchant; an appropriate legacy for us to celebrate

The webapp is due to launch later this year and it has been excellent fun researching the content, who knew there was a link between afternoon teas and a polio vaccination.

Get involved

London is a tea capital and we certainly can’t know all there is to know, no matter how many cuppas we have. So, we need your help crowd source a couple of venues:

  • Let us know where have you had your best afternoon tea or cup of tea,
  • London venues that serve Rooibos or Maté blends (we are a big fan of both)


If you have any questions or comments on the project please Tweet, Instagram or Facebook us or email us

I love Museums

The Museums Association launched their I Love Museums campaign, an online campaign for museum visitors, users and lovers to show their support for museums.

Museums are, ultimately, about people. There is no one type of person who vists a museums and there is certainly more than one reason to visit. This campaign gives you, the people who these museums are for, the chance to say why.

  • I love museums, Sophia Springs
    , Sophia Springs

Discovering the Horniman Aquarium

'Museum' the word and idea came from the Greek museion meaning seat of the Muses (nine inspirational goddesses who were the gospel singers in Disney's Hercules). Museums used to be contemplative philosophical spaces, it was not for many years until objects were displayed in these spaces.

Performing arts, part of the Horniman's Nature Late event

Now, museums are vibrant and varied. Here at the Horniman, Victorian taxidermy is displayed next to contemporary art, and hand's on craft sessions take place in stunning gardens with live music playing. There's no one way of defining a museum and there are loads of reasons to love them so please let us know by clicking here.

Here are some of your responses so far:


Storytelling with the Stroke Association

The Horniman regularly hosts visits from the Stroke Association, enabling stroke surviviors and their families to meet and explore the collections. We recently heard from Melvin about his experiences with the group and how it has helped him explore the Horniman.

Hello, My name is Melvin and I have been attending the Horniman Stroke Association group since March 2014.

In November we had an interesting session with a professional story teller called Margaret. She started with a gentle song with actions about the sea and the earth. Then we all took turns to open a special box and use our imagination to say what was inside. Other group members saw flowers, money, gold, the sea, a cat. I saw a magic mirror. Next, Margaret told a short story about her daughter encountering a snake in Brixton. After that, she encouraged us to tell stories about animals. Sue talked about her 'house rabbit' called Roger. I shared a story about my dog Spangle answering the phone.

Margaret then told a long but enchanting story about an old woman, a snake and a Royal Family. She used her voice and hands to hold our interest. Lastly, she asked us to re-tell parts of the story in small groups. In my group Sue spoke about the beginning of the story and I illustrated her tale by using gestures.

Overall, I thought this session was the best ever! There was less talking and more hand gestures, which I found very useful.

You can find out more about how the Horniman works with community groups in our Learning pages.

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