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

Previous Next
of 678 items

A new breath of life for our Wildlife Pond

Shayna Soong, Schools Learning Officer discusses the recent Wildlife Pond renovation and upcoming family activities and school sessions on the Nature Trail. 

Nestled at the bottom of the Horniman Gardens lies a wonderful habitat corridor known as the Nature Trail. The site of a former railway, this trail is a tranquil oasis for wildlife and visitors alike.

At the end of the trail lays a wildlife pond and log meadow – both fantastic habitats in their own right, and a great setting for school and family outdoor learning sessions.

Unfortunately, the pond had rather suffered in recent times – the dipping platform was decaying, the water had filled up with tree leaves and duckweed, and the whole area was overgrown and gloomy.
  
  • Platform Nature Trail, Before: the old platform. slippery, sagging and too small, Wesley Shaw
    Before: the old platform. slippery, sagging and too small, Wesley Shaw
  • Duckweed and pond, Pond covered in duck weed and rotting platform timbers, Wesley Shaw
    Pond covered in duck weed and rotting platform timbers, Wesley Shaw

Gardens Team to the rescue!

Kevin and Daniel of the Gardens team set to work early this year, digging out the decaying old platform, clearing vegetation and excavating a new route to the log meadow.

The team built a new, extended platform with non-slip strips, a seating/workspace at the back and removable barriers at the front. A fabulous walkway was also created, with steps up to a new gate providing direct access to the log meadow.

The duckweed has been cleared and native marginal and submerged pond plants have been established. The tree canopy has also been reduced to allow more light into the pond. These measures will help to oxygenate the pond which, in turn, will encourage more aquatic wildlife.
 
  • new steps Nature Trail , After: new steps and gate through to log meadow− © Wesley Shaw
    After: new steps and gate through to log meadow
  • Foundations of platform - Nature Trail , Foundations for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
    Foundations for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
  • Kevin sawing decking for the new platform, Kevin sawing decking for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
    Kevin sawing decking for the new platform, Wesley Shaw
  • Kevin and Daniel hard at work, Kevin and Daniel hard at work, Wesley Shaw
    Kevin and Daniel hard at work, Wesley Shaw
  • The finished platform, The finished platform, Wesley Shaw
    The finished platform, Wesley Shaw
  • Pond cleared of duckweed, Pond cleared of duckweed, Wesley Shaw
    Pond cleared of duckweed, Wesley Shaw
 
There are plenty of newts living in the pond, the star of any pond dipping session, along with aquatic invertebrates such as dragonfly nymphs and water boatmen.

The improvements to the pond and surrounding area will make a huge difference to the experience of families and school groups taking part in learning sessions on the Nature Trail.

The Learning Team would like to extend a huge “thank you” to the Gardens Team, in particular, Kevin and Daniel, for their time and hard work.

Learning outdoors

  • Pond dipping , Pond dipping session, Megan Taylor
    Pond dipping session, Megan Taylor
 
 
For schools, the Nature Trail is a fantastic place to bring your Science topic to life. During guided learning sessions, pupils can directly experience native British habitats and learn a range of fieldwork skills under expert guidance, and all in a safe, managed environment.
 
For more information about Schools Learning Sessions on the Nature Trail, see Habitat Explorers for KS1 or Go Outside: Pond and Meadow for KS2 & 3.
 
Families can also experience the wonders of the Nature Trail during supervised pond dipping sessions during the school holidays and guided Welly Walk events.
 
Upcoming events:
 
Pond DippingTuesdays 9 and 16 April
 

The Horniman’s First Female Curators

Who were the women who blazed a trail at the Horniman in our Curatorial teams? We're taking a look back to find out more about who these women were.

Of course, there are other female firsts at the Horniman we would love to know – who was the first women who worked here?

Unfortunately, historic records relating to other roles are not as well kept as those pertaining to curatorial staff. As our Archivist, Carly Randall, points out, “published staff information focused on curators and not the behind the scenes roles that women would have, historically, had easier access to (e.g. running the shop and tea room, cleaners, educators, casual workers and volunteers etc).”

Do you have any stories about members of your family who worked in the Horniman during our earlier years? Please get in touch with us via web@horniman.ac.uk.

Jean Jenkins: Music

Out of the three women we feature, the one we know the most about is Jean Jenkins, who played a key role in the UK's knowledge of world music. She helped to provide a documentary record of musical traditions that have disappeared or changed beyond recognition during her career.

  • Jean Jenkins, Jean Jenkins, Tomxcoady CC BY 3.0 via Wikicommons
    Jean Jenkins, Tomxcoady CC BY 3.0 via Wikicommons

Jean was born in the Bronx in New York in 1922 into a Jewish family, and had an early interest in folk music. She was a union organiser and civil rights activist, and was part of the folk scene in New York before moving to Missouri, where she studied anthropology and musicology in the 1940s, working for a time in the Ozarks region.

Her letters reveal she was assaulted in Akansas in the 1940s, and felt harassed by the Ku Klux Klan according to Henrietta Lidchi, Keeper of World Cultures, at National Museums of Scotland. Her decision to emigrate to the UK in 1949 with her first husband, may have been due in part to this harassment and the atmosphere of the McCarthy era of purges; Jean was on the wanted list because of her campaigning work for black rights in trade unions.

In London, she embarked on a PHD at the University of London, SOAS and in 1954, Jean found a role at the Horniman as a temporary cataloguer, before becoming an Assistant Curator in 1956. In 1960, she became the Horniman’s first Keeper of Musical Instruments.

During her curatorial role, Jean travelled extensively throughout Southern Europe, Asia and Africa. She was interested in not just the instruments, but the musicians, music played and the context of the environment they were played in. Among many other places, she visited Uganda (1966 and 68), Malaysia (1972), Indonesia (1973) Afghanistan (1974) Algeria and Morocco, and Turkey and Syria (1975).

When I first went out to central Asia, I was in fact looking for the origins of a number of Indian instruments. I found some of them of course but that wasn’t at all what interested me about the trip. I went out there and heard a lot of music that I had not heard anything like at all before, and it was my first field trip, and from then on, I heard music which connected up with central Asia. Every single time I have taken a field trip I have heard something which connected up in some way or another. Jean Jenkins

During these field trips and excursions (some funded out of her own pocket) she collected hundreds of sound recordings, over 1,000 slides and photographs, and also kept regular diaries, which are held at National Museums of Scotland.

In addition, she collected a vast range of musical instruments, many of which are in our collections.

In the early 1970s, as part of the World of Islam Festival, she was commissioned by the Festival Trust to acquire a large collection of musical instruments for an exhibition at the Horniman.

Jean travelled to most of the countries in the world where Islam was or is practiced, as the state religion or which had come under its influence in the past, from Southern Italy to China. She curated the exhibition ‘Music and Musical Instruments for the World of Islam’ which ran from 3 April – 6 October 1976, introducing the collections to a much wider audience.

In 1978, Jean left the Horniman and worked independently in Edinburgh, France and Germany, curating exhibitions like Man and Music in Scotland in 1983.

She died in 1990.

Valerie Vowles: Anthropology

Valerie was the first female curator for our anthropology collections, then known as Ethnographic collections.

We could find very little material about Valerie before her time in Uganda in the 1950s; nothing about her upbringing or early interests and career.

She wrote in the Museum Ethnographers Group journal (October 1981) that when she arrived in Uganda in 1951, a new museum was being built. She collected for the new Uganda Museum, travelling, “for the most part in the northern half of the country, but as time went on I was invited to other areas where people wished to ensure that their way of life was adequately represented in the museum.”

Merrick Posnansky, Curator of the Uganda Museum, wrote,

We were fortunate to have Valerie Vowles, probably the best ethnographer in Africa, maintain the collections immaculately. The storerooms had shelves on rails to maximize space, an innovation only introduced to the United States 20 years later. She had developed a system for periodic inspection of every item, refreshing accession numbers as necessary and sealing artefacts in plastic bags to keep out insects and dust.

Half way through the initial exhibition scheduled following the new museum opening, Valerie suffered a period of doubt about their “audience appeal.” She felt that there was a risk of boring the audience with objects that they used every day in their own homes.

In an effort to understand the interests of young adults she spent a year ‘on and off’ talking to students and professionals to make recommendations back to the museum about content, but the advent of a promotional campaign from Uganda’s new TV service meant that audience interest was no longer a problem and the museum became very popular.

Valerie was an Assistant Curator at the Horniman from 1968 until 1975, before becoming Keeper of Ethography from 1976 until 1982.

In the early 1970s, Valerie had established a solid relationship with Doreen Ntete who was an assistant curator of the recently established National Museum and Art Gallery of Botswana (NMAGB). They started a joint collecting initiative, collaborating on fieldwork to collect very well documented San material which was distributed between the two museums.

Botswana was recently independent (1966) and Ntete was keen that the national museum held a global collection, similar to other world-focused museums, rather than focusing only on southern African material. Ntete was particularly keen on material that spoke to their existing collections. An exchange was agreed between the Horniman and the NMAGB whereby a selection of Australian and Pacific stone tools were sent to Botswana in exchange for further San material.

It was under Valerie’s (and later Keith Nicklin’s) keeperships that the Horniman’s systematic collection of African materials began, after a focus on African visual culture in the past. It was this approach which led to the collections of the everyday material culture of speciÔ¨Āc African peoples, which is very much in evidence in the World Gallery today.

  • Wooden lidded bowl, A Wooden lidded bowl from Mozambique
    A Wooden lidded bowl from Mozambique

Valerie also played a key role in the creation of the Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG). Peter Gathercole wrote in 1997, during a reflection of the creation of the group, that by the early 1970s, “many of us working in museum ethnography felt that the subject needed a more self-conscious position in both anthropology and museology in this country and museum ethnographers a better defined role.”

During a meeting in Liverpool in 1974, Valerie and Charles Hunt (from Merseyside County Museum) both “expressed mutual frustration with the existing ethnographic scene.” Following this, Valerie organised a meeting at the Horniman on 22 May 1974 with Hunt as the first speaker. The title of the event was ‘Ethnography in museums: a reassessment,’ and according to Gathercole, “the response was excellent” with “most of the 40 people who had indicated that they would come did so (some 15 are still MEG members).”

Valerie continued in her involvement with MEG in the 1970s, acting as Secretary and Treasurer of the Group in 1976.

After Valerie left the Horniman in 1982, the trail gets difficult to follow again, although we believe she was living in the UK in the early 2000s.

Does anyone know any more about Valerie’s life and career? Get in touch (web@horniman.ac.uk) and we’ll update the blog.

Dr Penny Wheatcroft: Natural History

The final curator we found was Dr Penny Wheatcroft, who was the first female Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman in the early 1980s.

Penny was born in September 1945 and we know that she worked at the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry from 1976 until 1980. She joined the Horniman as Keeper in 1980 and was here until 1985.

According to research carried out by the University of the Third Age in 2011, Penny spent a great deal of her time with the day to day running of the museum, along with live animal displays of fish, reptiles and bees. She instigated a new catalogue system for the 40-50k specimens which hadn’t been documented since the 1930s, as well as a project to oversee renovation in the present Natural History gallery.

One of the key acquisitions she oversaw was the Hart bird collection, purchased from Stowe School in 1983. These 245 cases of stuffed birds, often in striking dioramas, were created by Edward Hart (other parts of this collection went to Leicester Museum Service and Hampshire County Council Museums Service).

  • Robins from the Hart Bird Collection, Taxidermy case of adult female and adult male European Robin, part of the Hart bid collection.
    Taxidermy case of adult female and adult male European Robin, part of the Hart bid collection.

Within the sector, Penny was heavily involved with the Biology Curators Group (BCG), which merged with the Natural Sciences Conservation Group (NSCG) in 2003 to form the Natural Sciences Collection Association (NatSCA). She became Secretary of the BCG in 1983.

During her time at the Horniman, our natural history collections unfortunately suffered a series of thefts, vandalism or attempted thefts over what must have been a very stressful month. In a letter to the BCG, Penny wrote,

Recently the Natural History Department at the Horniman Museum gained a new and enthusiastic type of visitor. Unfortunately these keen would-be naturalists were inclined to visit outside the normal opening hours, possibly carrying large sacks labelled SWAG.

She sought help from the group on the subjects of valuation, as she was struggling to convince the “catford cops” of the value that these objects (eggs and taxidermy fish), which could be illegally sold.

Penny believed that these incidents were originated by the same person or group, and warned, “if an anaemic and somewhat scarred individual offers you a cheap carp or some cracked eggs - be warned, it could be our visitor.”

She moved on to the Natural History Museum as an Exhibition Developer in 1985, then known as the British Museum (Natural History), who were not as keen on Penny’s involvement with the BCG (as noted in the groups’ newsletter in 1987). She stepped down formally from the group in 1986.

Penny was involved in the trade union at the museum, and campaigned to “maintain free enquiry and research facilities” at the museum, as well as campaigning against entry charges. According to another newsletter from the BCG, she was “fighting that policy tooth and nail.”

From 1989, she moved within the nearly renamed Natural History Museum to become Information Officer in the Visitor Resources Section, and was the Branch Chair of the of the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists. Comments from Penny appear in The Times twice in 1990, emphasising her role within the union.

First, a letter to the Editor about an article focused on changes being implemented by a new Director at the museum. She wrote,

Your leader of April 27 falls into the classic “king's new clothes” trap, assuming that any glossily presented change is necessarily for the good. Its insidious sub-text is that the new Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr Chalmers, is valiantly battling against a fusty horde of ‘curators of the old school’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The museum's importance as an international centre of excellence in taxonomy and mineralogy continues in the face of inadequate Government funding and managerial hostility.

The very next day, she was quoted in an article about consulting with the union before committing to job cuts, claiming a victory ahead of planned strike action.

After this, the trail becomes cold, although we believe she died in 2010.

Does anyone have any more information about Penny and her career? Get in touch (web@horniman.ac.uk) and we’ll update the blog.

With thanks to Carly Randall, Archivist, and Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, Deputy-Keeper of Anthropology.

Horniman’s 5 Women Artists

When people have been asked to name five female artists (beyond perhaps Frida Kahlo) they struggle. Magnificent and talented as they are, there’s a wealth of female artists out there. At the Horniman, we have exhibited works by Lynette Nampijimpa Granites Nelson, Buffy Cordero-Suina and Olive Blackham to name a few.

So this year we have decided to take part in the challenge National Museum of Women in the Arts set again, and highlight female artists. We’re even giving you a sneak peek about who will be exhibiting later this year towards the end of this post.

Shauna Richardson

  • Photo of Shauna Richardson, Shauna Richardson
    , Shauna Richardson

Shauna Richardson developed a sewing technique called Crotchetdermy®. Crotchetdermy® creates a skin like visual by using the interlocking of looped stitches formed with a single thread and hooked needle. Her exhibition EVOLUTION of The Artist and The Exhibited Works compliments the taxidermy and narrative of evolution from the Natural History Gallery.

“Crochetdermy® is a combination of all sorts of things. I guess it’s a mash-up of me and my life. There are childhood pastimes such as museum visits and making things, and the adult interest in art theory, particularly in what constitutes art and perhaps more interestingly, what does not. Constant throughout there is rebellion, humour and pure devilment” – Shauna Richardson.

  • Bear Crochetdermy®, Bear Crochetdermy sculpture, Shauna Richardson
    Bear Crochetdermy sculpture, Shauna Richardson

Serena Korda

  • Serena Korda, Serena Korda , Chris Egon Searle
    Serena Korda , Chris Egon Searle

Have you seen or smelt the scented ceramics in our new arts space, The Studio?

English artist Serena Korda created them as part of her work with The Collective, a group of 10 people from the local community. Korda creates large-scale ensemble performances, soundscapes and sculptures that reflect communion and tradition and aspects of our lives.

This element feeds into The Lore of The Land exhibition, which asks us to think about our relationship to our natural environment. The exhibition features 100 objects from our anthropology collection, scented sculptures and a soundscape influenced by the chemical process that arises in trees and plants. You can visit The Lore of the Land until 2 June 2019.

  • The Lore of The Land , The Lore of The Land
    The Lore of The Land

Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman

  • Woyingi design piece , Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Studio Sikoki , Jatin Garg
    Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Studio Sikoki , Jatin Garg

Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman is an artist and industrial designer whose work explores the dynamics between the object, user, and the environment. 

Her piece in the World Gallery represents Woyingi. In Ljaw law, Woyingi is the goddess of all creation. Although many Ljaw people are now Christian, people still refer to God as Woyongi or Nana Owei.

Her beautiful pieces can be seen in the African encounter in the World Gallery.

Vuya Raratabu

In Fiji, Barkcloth, called tapa or masi, is a sacred material made from beaten mulberry bark. Traditionally, barkcloth is central to celebrations and milestones in family life. 

In the World Gallery, two examples of this can be seen. The dresses designed by Vuya Raratabu, were made to celebrate the 1st and 21st birthday of Shelley Marie Kaurasi. Traditionally these dresses only come in variants of brown and black, made with natural materials such as clay, dye and soot, which are representative of the land.

Across Polynesia, people share a similar understanding of mana as power, effectiveness and prestige of divine origin. In Fiji, mana is often associated with chiefs and healers. Mana also exists within objects. The chiefly regalia and barkcloth material you can see here reveal different ideas and experiences of mana.

  • 2017.85, Item 2017.85, dress by Vuya Raratabu
    Item 2017.85, dress by Vuya Raratabu

  •  2017.84, Item 2017.84, dress by Vuya Raratabu
    Item 2017.84, dress by Vuya Raratabu

Claire Morgan

  • Claire Morgan, Claire Morgan, David Holbrook
    Claire Morgan, David Holbrook

Claire Morgan is a UK artist, with a deep interest in humans and animals. Much of her work features taxidermy, creating tangible elements to something that would be lost.

“I am interested in humans as animals. What we have been, what we are, and what we could be or might be, as our way of living changes.” Claire Morgan

Morgan is in the process of creating special artworks that will connect to the Natural History Gallery. Watch this space for more news on Claire, as her pieces will be coming later next year.

Below are some of her preparatory sketches.

  • As I Live and Breathe (300 dpi-3547), As I Live and Breathe
2019
37 x 28.2cm (h x w)
Pencil and watercolour on paper

Photo: Claire Morgan Studio, Claire Morgan

Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Paris, St. Moritz
    As I Live and Breathe 2019 37 x 28.2cm (h x w) Pencil and watercolour on paper Photo: Claire Morgan Studio, Claire Morgan Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Paris, St. Moritz

  • By the Skin of the Teeth (c) Claire Morgan, By the Skin of the Teeth 
2019
67 x 101.8cm (h x w)
Pencil, watercolour, graphite, pastel on paper

Photo: Claire Morgan Studio

Claire Morgan

Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Paris, St. Moritz
    By the Skin of the Teeth 2019 67 x 101.8cm (h x w) Pencil, watercolour, graphite, pastel on paper Photo: Claire Morgan Studio Claire Morgan Courtesy Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, Paris, St. Moritz

 

And one more…

  • Katie Schwab, Katie Schwab, Sarah Packer
    Katie Schwab, Sarah Packer

We also recently announced a new partnership with Artist Katie Schwab who will co-produce a brand new artwork with a new Collective accompanied with a programme of events.

Share your stories of women artists using the hashtag #5WomenArtists on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Stories of Woyingi

Rachael Minott, Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice) studies the stories surrounding Woyingi by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman.

  • Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Jatin Garg
    Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Jatin Garg

In the World Gallery, there is a striking artistic representation of the Ijaw deity Woyingi by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman. 

Woyingi (Nana Owei) defined as Our mother, she who owns us, is imagined with black eggs which refer to muto the divine womb. The Ijaw creation myth places the origin of humanity at the feet of a supreme being sometimes called Woyingi/ Woyengi or Wonyinghi sometimes Temearau (she who creates).
 
The womb and its blackness are significant as it celebrates the origin of humanity from a cosmic womb that symbolically celebrates black womanhood. This symbolic celebration has real social, political and economic significance for the Ijaw women. A comparative study in 2014 for the Africa Journal of Social Science* found a correlation in the feminization of God Ijaw women occupying higher socio-cultural, political and economic roles compared to their Ibo, Hausa and Yoruba counterparts in Nigeria.
 
This study shows the importance of the stories we tell ourselves and revere and how these stories have implications for all other aspects of life. It is easy to see how Woyingi can be a symbol for empowerment, she is described as a beautiful and powerful; she is good and wise and she listens.
  • Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Jatin Garg
    Woyingi design piece by Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman, Jatin Garg
 
The creation myth, in which she centres, sees her arrive on earth by a thunderbolt. Finding it empty she makes humans from the earth beneath a scarred tree with her feet resting on a creation stone. Before she is finished, she breathes lives into each one and asks them who they would like to be. What should their gender be, how long should they live, by what means should they die and what would they like to achieve in this life? She grants each human their wish. However the choices they make, for power or material things determine which river she leads them down, the clear still river, or the muddy and turbulent river. They live the lives they chose and return to Woyingi only in death.

*Uzobo, Endurance & Ogbanga, Mina & Jack, Jackson. (2014). THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE FEMINIZATION OF GOD AMONG THE IJAW PEOPLE OF NIGERIA. African Journal of Social Sciences. 4. 99-108. 

 

LGBTQ+ Stories and Themes of Love

Rachael Minott, Curator of Anthropology (Social Practice), has been looking at the different expressions of love in the World Gallery, as part of LGBT History Month.

As February draws to a close, we wanted to participate in LGBT History Month, using the ethos of the World Gallery to celebrate cultural differences. Ultimately, we are looking for common humanity, reflecting on the themes of the Gallery used to show human connections.

  • A heart charm from the World Gallery, A heart charm from the World Gallery
    A heart charm from the World Gallery

We want to mediate on stories that reflect on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender narratives of love around the world. Love between families, friendship, love within communities, romantic love, and platonic love and, of course, self-love. We strive to be active participants in an inclusive world, of tolerance, celebration and love.

Tracing LGBT stories globally allows us to challenge heteronormativity, and binary gender roles, but it also asks us to reflect on violence and discrimination, legacies which are connected to imperial histories, and which mean that for some living their authentic lives is dangerous.

But by focusing on the themes that connect all of humanity we hope we can touch upon the breadth of emotion that we all experiences in living a full life. 

Raising Children

One of the core narratives in the World Gallery, and indeed a core themes for the Horniman in general, are stories about how we raise children in different contexts.

The theme of child rearing includes the way individual families raise children, but also how communities come together to care for children collectively. It includes education, emotional and physical support.

In the World Gallery, the introductary area greets visitors with objects that are sentimental. One such object is Salish infant carrier, from what is today Montana (North America), used by guardians to carry children.

  • Salish infant carrier, A Salish infant carrier. The Salish now celebrate those known as Two Spirit.
    A Salish infant carrier. The Salish now celebrate those known as Two Spirit.

This object was used for physically supporting young ones and is a typical object type found in many cultures. However, if we look at other aspects of how the Salish raise children, we can explore how those known as Two Spirit are raised, and in turn are often involved in raising children themselves.

Two Spirit

The people of the Flathead nation, to which the Salish belong, celebrate those known as Two Spirit. This term is understood across First Nations people of the Americas, and has a long histories of signifying the importance of individuals deemed to possess both male and female spirits.

Two Spirit people acted and continue to act, as mediators in disagreements, serving their elders, and supporting youth during puberty.

Today, Two Spirit is a term for First Nations people associated with being gender fluid, gender queer and gender non-conforming. It refers to pre-colonial understandings of gender that was normalised.

  • Two spirit pride trolley at San Francisco Pride, Two spirit pride trolley at San Francisco Pride, 2014, Sarah Stierch via wiki commons CC.BY.40
    Two spirit pride trolley at San Francisco Pride, 2014, Sarah Stierch via wiki commons CC.BY.40

While today it is celebrated, those who were Two Spirit and who lived through colonialism, were often forced into violent boarding school systems, where binary gender identities were assigned. As such, the resurgence of the term is a form of healing, and goes hand-in-hand with educational programs to challenge binary gender norms for children.

The Montana Two Spirit Society formed in 1996 through a joint effort by Pride Inc. (Montana’s LGBT advocacy organisation) and the Montana Gay Men’s Task Force, and runs an annual Two Spirit Gathering. The 2019 gathering will see the first Two Spirit Youth Gathering for those aged 10-25 years.

This approach aims to support First Nation’s LGBT+ youth as a community, through education and support: caring about physical and mental wellbeing while providing educational support and safe spaces to grow.

In the UK, people have come together to support LGBT youth, understanding that communities raise children alongside and sometime in lieu of immediate familial support. Charities like The Proud Trust, Mosaic youth and Albert Kennedy Trust  amongst others.

Celebrating life

Another core theme in the World Gallery is celebrating life. This is explored through looking at rites of passages, various masquerades and festivals.

Celebrating life is an essential activity to take note of when we (both as individuals and groups) survive and thrive. These include weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, independence days, parades and carnivals.

For the LGBTQ+ community globally, Pride has become one of the most recognised forms of celebration. It occurs in different cities on different days, and aims to be an inclusive safe space to come together, and stand together.

  • Gay Pride Johannesburg 2006, Gay Pride Johannesburg 2006, Diricia De Wet via wikicommons CC BY2.0
    Gay Pride Johannesburg 2006, Diricia De Wet via wikicommons CC BY2.0

An essential element of these celebration is the Pride flag and the parade through the city. Attendees often wear amazing outfits and make up, and there is food, drink and music. It is a moment of unity, celebrating shared elements of identity, and the freedom to express that identity publicly, loudly and safely: with pride.

This type of cultural expression is a common global activity, for various cultures to celebrate different elements of life together. These celebrations often have similar components: music, movement, special dress and/or make-up and a coming together to express elements of a shared identity, publicly and loudly.

As with Pride, these acts of celebrating life are not a-political, and are in response to, or defiance of, previous (and continuous) repression. The celebrations themselves are often policed and attract those who wish to spread hate, to appear and try to maintain repressive, violent actions.

Barriletes Gigantes

Celebrating life goes hand in hand with remembering the dead as a core element of the human experience. Acts of remembrance are not always acts of mourning, but another form of celebrating a life lived.

In Guatemala, in the Sacatepequez region, for All Saints day (1-2 November) the Barriletes Gigantes (Giant kite) festival is held. Bright colourful kites up to 36 meters are created and flown to act as a mediator for the spirits of the deceased loved ones.

  • Barriletes Gigantes in a graveyard, Barriletes Gigantes in a graveyard, Nimrod Zaphnath via Wikicommons CC BY 2.0
    Barriletes Gigantes in a graveyard, Nimrod Zaphnath via Wikicommons CC BY 2.0

The Giant Kite festival, is a tradition carried down from Mayan culture. The kites are made using bamboo, fabric and paper and have intricate designs which have been worked on for about a year, while the construction would be undertaken over 40 days. These designs are sometimes political, and call out corruption or loss of ancestral knowledge or land, and often call for respect and love.

Traditionally the details of the design were supposed to specifically communicate with the family ancestors to help them journey back to the land of the living without interruption from evil spirits.

Today the messages are less about communicating with the dead and are instead messages of peace, hope, and companionship for the living.

The kite entitled, ‘Amor, dolor y creación’ (‘Love, Pain and Creation’) hangs above the World Gallery and was made by the art collective Gorrión Chupaflor for the Festival in 2013. It depicts a Mayan origin story of humanity from the Quiché Maya Popol Vuh, and links to the galleries desire to celebrate life.

  • Our central kite from a Barriletes Gigantes , Our central kite from a Barriletes Gigantes
    Our central kite from a Barriletes Gigantes

Remembering the dead

When remembering the dead, museums are best able to reflect objects used for memorials, some of which are reflective of a tragic loss of life, such as the Japanese Ita-hi (memorial stone) in the World Gallery.

It is a stone carved with a depiction of a seated Nyoirin Kannon Cintamani cakra, a form of Avalokiteshvara – a being who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas.

This form became a principle icon of worship from the 10th century, and the bodhisattva's pose, in fact, indicates that he is resting in his personal paradise on Mt. Potalaka, while in his hand he holds the cintamani, which is a wish giving stone.

The inscription indicates that the figure was erected in memory of a girl who died, aged 5, on the date Houei5, September (September 1708). It gives her holy name also, 'Kourin-shinnyo'.

Countries around the world have erected memorials to members of the LGBTQ+ community who suffered persecution during under the Nazi regime, with a memorial in San Francisco, in the United States (1978), Amsterdam, in The Netherlands (1987),  Frankfurt and Berlin, in Germany (1994 and 2008 respectively), Sydney in Australia (2001), and Tel Aviv, Israel (2014).

The Transgender memorial garden in St Louis, USA (2015) was created for those who lost their lives to transphobic violence and to provide space where their lives can be celebrated. For those who lost their lived during the AIDS epidemic there is a public memorial in Indiana, USA (2000); while last year saw a fundraising campaign for the UK to have its first AIDS memorial, to mark the thousands of lives lost, and to provide those living with HIV or who had been affected by it, a space to remember and recover.

Telling stories

Monuments to those who have passed away, are essential to telling stories.

Remembering our common narratives helps us to understand the world we live in now and how communities evolve.

Memorials to those who have passed away remind us of the trials we have survived, and ask that history does not repeat itself. However, because of homophobic legislation schools and local authorities were banned from discussing and displaying narratives about same-sex relationships under Section 28.

  • Section 28 Rainbow Plaque, Section 28 Rainbow Plaque, Chemical Engineer via Wikicommons CC BY SA4.0
    Section 28 Rainbow Plaque, Chemical Engineer via Wikicommons CC BY SA4.0

The Local Government Act, known as Section 28, was implemented across England Scotland and Wales in 1988 (and repealed between 2000 and 2003), which expressly banned ‘intentionally promoting homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.’

While this legislation was challenged, demonstrated against and denounced, it left a gap in the public sector of stories about LGBTQ+ lives during that period, something that the country is still recovering from.   

Telling diverse stories is one way that museums can be a leading figure in and inclusive world. LGBTQ+ stories in museums are underrepresented, and this needs to change.

Key to telling authentic LGBTQ+ stories will be working with those who identify as LGBTQ+ to explore the rich, complex narratives of life.

While the Horniman does not currently have enough touch points, or research to tell this story as well as we like, we hope to improve by actively working towards serving the LGBTQ+ community better, like our work with Rainbow Pilgrims during Crossing Borders, an LGBTQ+ refugee group, who have shared their stories with our audiences.

It shows us the importance and depth of platforming these narratives, and the role in telling these stories to make the world a more tolerant, accepting and inviting place.

  • Members of rainbow Pilgrims at Crossing Borders, Members of rainbow Pilgrims at Crossing Borders, Mary Humphrey
    Members of rainbow Pilgrims at Crossing Borders, Mary Humphrey

Lost Wonders of London

Our new exhibition Brick Wonders displays marvels of our world, we decided to take a look at the lost wonders of London.

1. Crystal Palace

Our first wonder is closely tied to South London. The Crystal Palace, designed by Sir Joseph Paxton was a beautiful glass structure held together through a network of iron rods. The building played host to The Great Exhibition, which opened on 1 May 1851 in Hyde Park and was moved to South London following the exhibition. The display hosted 14,000 exhibitors from around the world. The first of its kind, it opened Britain to an experience of travelling cultures. An estimated 6 million people were said to attend the exhibition, including Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens.

This beautiful hand-held fan depicts the crowds at Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition, the reverse is decorated with figures and crests in Gold.

  • Fan, 99.223a, Fan, 99.223a, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Fan, 99.223a, Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • Fan, 99.223a, Fan, 99.223a, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Fan, 99.223a, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Illustrated London News Frontpiece with the title below, reading 'Interior of the Crystal Palace. Hyde Park 1851'. The print shows crowds viewing the exhibits, with a stand for Ceylon on the left, the upper galleries around, and the roof structure above.

  • Print, 2011.32, Print, 2011.32, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Print, 2011.32, Horniman Museum and Gardens

This page from the Illustrated London News depicts an exterior view of the Crystal Palace with crowds in the front. Above, at the centre, are the figure of Britannia, with Queen Victoria on the left greeting two female figures in Asian dress on her right, flanked by figures in western dress on the left and in Asian dress on the right.

  • Print, 2011.33, Print, 2011.33, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Print, 2011.33, Horniman Museum and Gardens

2. Euston Arch

  • Euston Arch, Euston Arch− © Tekniska museet
    Euston Arch

Our second wonder is an iconic symbol of the industrial revolution, the Euston Arch. It is said to be ‘first great monument of the railway age’ by railway enthusiasts.

The arch was built in 1838 at the same time as the opening of Euston Station, the capitals first inter-city terminal.

Demolished in the 1960’s when Euston station was rebuilt, some of its stones have been used to fill the Prescott Channel. There has been many articles discussing the aesthetics of the arch. Is this the marmite of architecture? Is it a piece that would look out of place nowadays in the city or do we need more structures like this that stand out, bold and strong?

  • Archway,4522.12, Archway,4522.12, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Archway,4522.12, Horniman Museum and Gardens

  • Archway, 4522.12, Archway, 4522.12, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Archway, 4522.12, Horniman Museum and Gardens

This is part of an Indian arch that you pass through in the World Gallery, made of teak. According to Sir Somers Vine who sold it to the Horniman, it took six men seven years to carve.

3. Amphitheatre under Guildhall

  • London's Roman Amphitheatre, London's Roman Amphitheatre, Philafrenzy
    London's Roman Amphitheatre, Philafrenzy

Rediscovered by Museum of London archaeologists in 1988, the Amphitheatre under Guildhall Yard is a landmark you can see today and London’s only Roman amphitheatre.

The wooden structure was built in 70AD and could play host to up to 6,000 people. Amphitheatres would have been used for public executions and gladiator shows or fights. The surviving remains include the stone entrance tunnel, east gate and arena walls.

This rod puppet shows a Roman Centurion.

  • Rod puppet nn18424, Rod puppet, nn18424, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Rod puppet, nn18424, Horniman Museum and Gardens

4. Palace of Whitehall

  • Palace of Whitehall, Painting of the Palace of White Hall, Hendrik Danckerts
    Painting of the Palace of White Hall, Hendrik Danckerts

The Palace of Whitehall was home to English monarchs from 1530 to 1698. In 1698 a fire of destroyed the entire palace, leaving only the banqueting area intact. The palace was one of the largest in Europe with 1,500 rooms.

Originally the site was developed by the Archbishop of York. It was in the sixteenth century that the site was made into a great palace by Cardinal Wosley, which was taken over and expanded by Henry Vlll. Henry married two of his six wives at Whitehall Palace and also died there.

Whitehall was also where Charles l was executed and where William III and Mary II succeeded the throne in 1689-90.

  • Commemorative plate, 2434, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    , Horniman Museum and Gardens

5. Old London Bridge

  • Illustration of Old London Bridge, Illustration of Old London Bridge, Claude de Jongh
    Illustration of Old London Bridge, Claude de Jongh

Our final wonder is the Old London Bridge. Built between 1176 and 1209, the Old London Bridge stood as a place of commercial and residential occupancy for merchants and city dwellers.

Built by Peter, chaplain of St. Mary’s of Colechurch, the bridge was made up of 19 arches and 200 houses. The bridge had survived several catastrophes, but three years after its completion all the buildings were destroyed by a huge fire, where 3,000 people were killed.

In 1282, five of the arches fell due to the pressures of winter weather, and when the central pier was removed in 1762 the bridge became hard to maintain. The river would erode the arches which constantly needed protecting with stones. This led to the structure being redesigned further upstream by John Reggie.

You can see a replica of the Old London Bridge and the life of the towns’ people in our exhibition Brick Wonders until 19 October 2019.

  • Old London Bridge model, Model of Old London Bridge, Warren Elsemore
    Model of Old London Bridge, Warren Elsemore

Is there a building or landmark that you feel is a lost wonder in London? Do let us know by tagging us @HornimanMuseum on Twitter and Facebook.

How to be a green visitor

Recognised with a Green Tourism award and as a Green Flag Venue, we strive at the Horniman to be as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible.
 
We’ve put together a guide to our improvements and a few tips on how you can be a greener visitor too.

Arrive by public transport

The Horniman is well served by public transport. Forest Hill station is part of the London Overground with regular direct trains from North, East and South East London. Direct trains also run from London Bridge and Victoria.

You can also reach us easily by bus from Brixton, Lewisham, Streatham, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria Penge, Crystal Palace, Peckham, Catford, New Cross and Croydon.

Visit our How to Get Here page to plan your journey.

Water stations

  • Emma Nicholls at Water Fountain, #OneLess Campaign
    #OneLess Campaign

We’ve made it easy for our visitors to leave single-use plastics behind with our two water refill stations. We have a Victorian fountain located near the Bandstand and a modern refill point close to the main entrance. As part of the London Drinking Fountain Fund, it serves as one of 20 across the whole of London provided by #OneLess campaign and the Mayor of London. We also offer free water refills in the Café as part of the award-winning Refill campaign.

Less than 30% of people in the UK drink water from a reusable bottle and refilling a reusable bottle is an easy way of reducing pollution to our environment. If you haven’t already invested in a refillable water bottle, we have some available in the shop. The proceeds go towards helping run the Horniman and it will help save you money in the long run.

Recycling

Have you spotted the recycling points around the Gardens?  They are situated near the Bandstand, if you’re having a picnic or using the eating spaces, you can leave your recyclable rubbish here. Below is a map of where the recycle points are located.

We also take recycling seriously, and there are many ways the Horniman makes use of the waste generated through the museum.

  • customers in cafe , Sophia Spring
    , Sophia Spring

The waste produced by the Horniman Café is also composted using an on-site Ridan composter. This produces a mulch we use to feed the Garden’s plants. The Café also has a wonderful range of 19 items supplied by Vegware. These products are made entirely from plants and commercially compostable materials. The range includes coffee cups, take-away boxes and straws.

Did you know that around 187,000 litres of water from the Aquarium is reused to water the Gardens? Once any salt has been removed, the water waste product is perfect for the gardens vast selection of plants, but the impurities it contains would harm the sensitive sea life.

Bring your own reusables

Alongside the reusable water bottles for sale in our Gift Shop, there are traveller coffee cups that reflect the Horniman’s collections. Take one of these or your own reusable cup to the Café for your coffee, tea or hot chocolate.

Currently, we are looking for alternatives to the use of plastic carrier bags in the Shop. We encourage you to bring your own reusable shopping bag (you can also find these in the Shop). We have a 5p charge on our bags to support Project Coral, an innovative coral reproductive research project led by the Horniman Aquarium with international partners. Project Coral is helping to stimulate the reproduction of the world’s coral reefs, which could decline by 60 % within the next 20 years. Catch Project Corals breakthrough moments on our website or our YouTube channel.

Locally sourced products

Each week we hold our Horniman Farmers’ Market, which sells fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as organic meats and artisan breads from local independent producers. You can visit every Saturday in the Gardens. See the current stallholders here.

The Café serves fair trade tea and coffee, locally sourced meat, free-range eggs and fish from sustainable sources, as well as local beer and cakes. You can see some of their fabulous cakes on our Instagram feed.

Supporting local growers, makers and producers means that your food has less of a carbon footprint than those shipped from overseas, as well as the bonus of supporting local businesses.

Objects and memories of the end of empire

Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp, Deputy Keeper of Anthropology, speaks about colonialism, the end of empire and the narratives it has formed for British life today.

In April 2011, I was in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone when people celebrated 50 years of independence from British colonialism. The whole city was decked out in green, white and blue, the national colours of Sierra Leone. Women wove green white and blue into their hair, motorbike riders decorated their bikes with flags, and people were dressed ready to celebrate and party hard. Sierra Leone became independent on the 27th of April 1961. This was a largely peaceful event, although colonialism in Sierra Leone had itself been punctuated by violence.

  • Tailors attached to the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Freetown, Tailors attached to the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Freetown, working long hours to finish a commission of flags for the Independence Day celebrations in 2011. , Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp
    Tailors attached to the Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in Freetown, working long hours to finish a commission of flags for the Independence Day celebrations in 2011. , Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp

This got me thinking about how we in Britain remember the end of the British Empire. It was not so long ago. By the end of WWII, it was widely accepted that British colonialism would draw to a close and by the 1960s, the majority of Britain's colonies had become independent.

Although memories of WWII continue to play an important public role, memories of colonialism are less visible. Yet the events that surrounded it continue to shape British life today. Although many people agree that the end of colonialism was an important moment in British history, it is certainly not something that is widely celebrated or publicly talked about much.

In 2016, I started a research project looking at objects, letters, films and photographs collected during the end of the British Empire in Africa, sitting in museums across the UK. This means they were collected between about 1940 and 1980. When it became clear to the British government that colonialism was no longer sustainable after WWII, they encouraged ever more migration from Britain into the empire.

  • A photograph of Roger Brain in Ibadan, A photograph of Roger Brain in Ibadan, 1962. Roger Brain was an agricultural scientist born in Wiltshire, who worked in both Sudan and Nigeria. In Ibadan, he contributed to the introduction of milk-producing Friesian cows.
    A photograph of Roger Brain in Ibadan, 1962. Roger Brain was an agricultural scientist born in Wiltshire, who worked in both Sudan and Nigeria. In Ibadan, he contributed to the introduction of milk-producing Friesian cows.

When former British colonies, like Sierra Leone, became independent, many families with British citizenship, whether born in Britain or in Africa, chose to leave.

  • Photograph of Audrey Brain, Photograph of Audrey Brain and one of her daughters up the Eiffel Tower in 1969, the year they left Nigeria and moved to Paris.
    Photograph of Audrey Brain and one of her daughters up the Eiffel Tower in 1969, the year they left Nigeria and moved to Paris.

Many left with the objects that were important to them. Some donated these objects to museums immediately, but most displayed them or stored them away in their homes. These collections have been offered to museums over the last 50 years, and I am interested in what they can tell us.

Museum collections from the end of the empire were usually collected by British teachers, scientists, artists, missionaries, or academics, as well as colonial officers. These pieces often reflect everyday family life, but also reflect a moment of transformation.

  • Independence Day celebrations in Ibadan, Independence Day celebrations in Ibadan, October 1960. Photograph taken by Roger Brain at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium
    Independence Day celebrations in Ibadan, October 1960. Photograph taken by Roger Brain at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium

  • Members of the Lukolela Baptist congregation, being baptised in the Congo River, the 1950s., Members of the Lukolela Baptist congregation, being baptised in the Congo River, the 1950s. It was taken by Rev. Lionel West, a missionary for the Baptist Missionary Society, who lived in Lukolela from 1930 up until Congolese independence in 1960.
    Members of the Lukolela Baptist congregation, being baptised in the Congo River, the 1950s. It was taken by Rev. Lionel West, a missionary for the Baptist Missionary Society, who lived in Lukolela from 1930 up until Congolese independence in 1960.
 

For example, they contain items made for sale by artists involved in an increasingly established art scene, including known carvers, weavers, potters, textile dyers or painters.

  • Carving of a Ntumpane drummer by Osei Bonsu, Carving of a Ntumpane drummer by Osei Bonsu, an established Ashanti carver based in Accra at the time he created this piece, probably in the late 1930s. Collected by Arthur Casswell Spooner. , Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
    Carving of a Ntumpane drummer by Osei Bonsu, an established Ashanti carver based in Accra at the time he created this piece, probably in the late 1930s. Collected by Arthur Casswell Spooner. , Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

  • 1968.434, An intricate painted piece of Adire Eleko., 1968.434, An intricate painted piece of Adire Eleko. The pattern is painted with cassava starch, then dyed in indigo. The price of Adire soared in Ibadan the mid-1960s due to the rising popularity of this cloth in post-independence Nigeria. , Horniman Museum and Gardens
    1968.434, An intricate painted piece of Adire Eleko. The pattern is painted with cassava starch, then dyed in indigo. The price of Adire soared in Ibadan the mid-1960s due to the rising popularity of this cloth in post-independence Nigeria. , Horniman Museum and Gardens

They also contain objects that reflect changing currencies of value. Such as religious or ceremonial objects that were sold. Items were possibly sold because they were no longer considered powerful or perhaps money held a different but greater form of power.

  • 1970.33, A ceremonial knife, 1970.33, A ceremonial knife purchased by Rev. Lionel West near Lukolela in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1950s. , Horniman Museum and Gardens
    1970.33, A ceremonial knife purchased by Rev. Lionel West near Lukolela in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1950s. , Horniman Museum and Gardens

I have also been looking at collections that reflect moments where the British Government attempted to forcefully contain resistance to colonialism. This includes the violent military campaign against Mau Mau fighters in the 1950s in Kenya, which involved the detention and torturing of Mau Mau suspects.

  • Aluminium replica watch, This aluminium replica watch was made by a convict in the small district prison in Karatina, Kenya. They were collected by Terrence J. Image, a prison officer who worked in both prisons and detention camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency., Imperial War Museum
    This aluminium replica watch was made by a convict in the small district prison in Karatina, Kenya. They were collected by Terrence J. Image, a prison officer who worked in both prisons and detention camps in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency., Imperial War Museum

What interests me is the way in which these objects often enable an understanding of the very complicated ways in which the end of empire was experienced and is remembered by those who lived through it. Sometimes these competing narratives make it very difficult to speak openly about this shared period in our history and to listen to those whose experience differs from our own. However, I do think we need to talk about it, to listen, and to understand the many ways our colonial past continues to affect our lives today. I hope that my research can help with that.

Do you or your family have memories or collections from Africa at the end of empire?

Rituals and Food Across the Globe

During January, we take on new habits to eat healthier or cut down on things like alcohol, but have you ever wondered what food habits and rituals happen in other countries?

In the World Gallery, you can get to know the everyday rituals and ceremonies about food from across the continents through more than 3,000 objects and stories.

  • Image-1 (Module)---World-Gallery, World Gallery, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    World Gallery, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Asia

In Tibet, tea and tsampa have become so iconic that the act of mixing the ingredients has its own sign in Tibetan sign language.

A main food source for Tibetan Nomads, salted yak butter tea and tsampa (roasted and ground barley), form a nutritious and revitalising porridge that can be prepared even in harsh weather conditions. For Tibetans living abroad, eating and preparing traditional food is a powerful link to their homeland.

Watch Shapaley’s music video about the iconic food below.

Africa

The Mbendjele people of the Congo region are hunter-gathers that have existed in the Central African rainforest for 40,000 years. Hunter-gatherers live on whatever the land provides and do not farm or grow food themselves.

The Mbendjele people believe that everyone is equal and live in a society that has no leaders, grand buildings or poverty. There is no word for ‘famine’ in their language as the forest provides every resource they need.

  • Red River Hog, 1906.5.25.1 , Red River Hog, 1906.5.25.1 , Item on loan courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London
    Red River Hog, 1906.5.25.1 , Item on loan courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

The Tuareg people are a diverse group spread across Algeria, Liberia, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. They call themselves Kel Tagelmoust, "People of the Veil."

To show hospitality, the Tuareg have a ceremony of serving tea to visitors, which is drunk before and after work. Sugar is mixed into the tea (usually black tea) and sometimes mint. Often two teapots are used to mix the tea and sugar, pouring it back and forth from one pot into the other. The tea is then served in small tea glasses. Three glasses of tea are usually drunk in succession, getting sweeter with each glass. The first one is bitter like life, the second one is sweet like love and the third is light like a breath of death.

  • Ilbarad, 1971.1049, Ilbarad, 1971.1049, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Ilbarad, 1971.1049, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Oceania

Across Polynesia, people share a similar understanding of mana as power, effectiveness and as prestige of divine origin. In Fiji, mana is often associated with chiefs and healers. Mana also exists within objects.

Drinking Kava is a major rite in all rituals and when receiving honoured guests. There are strict rules for the preparation of the drink and it is drunk in order of rank at chiefly rituals.

Kava is made from mixing the root of the Piper methysticum plant with water, in a special wooden bowl or tanoa. When drunk, kava produces feelings of calm and encourages contemplation and conversation. Kava has its own mana and is associated with the power of the land.

  • Kava root (Piper methysticum), nn4526, Kava root (Piper methysticum), nn4526, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Kava root (Piper methysticum), nn4526, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Europe

In villages across Poland, brown Polish bread is eaten with so many meals, it’s considered a national food. At New Year, ritual bread called Nowe Latko (New Summer) are baked in north-east Poland. These breads hang in prominent places in the home, such as a home altar, to promote prosperity in the New Year. The dough would show a householder surrounded by geese, set on a magical ring to protect against evil.

  • Bread Figure, 20.11.63/55, Bread Figure, 20.11.63/55, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Bread Figure, 20.11.63/55, Horniman Museum and Gardens

In some places dough, cheese or gingerbread figures are made for special occasions. In the Zakopane area, RedykoŇāka cheese figures were given to family members when shepherds brought their flocks down from the mountains to the village.

  • Figure (food sample), 18.2.59/7, Figure (food sample), 18.2.59/7, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Figure (food sample), 18.2.59/7, Horniman Museum and Gardens

America

Our final stop is in the Americas, where we see that the special relationship the Arctic people have with nature and animals.

Providing essential energy to survive the extreme cold as food and as fuel for lamps, animal fat is one of the most important resources in the Artic.

  • Bucket, 17.13, Bucket, 17.13, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Bucket, 17.13, Horniman Museum and Gardens

The bucket, pictured above, held blubber: fat from sea mammals. The decoration of carved whales, polar bears and seals shows thanks and respect to the hunted animals. The Inuit use every part of an animal and believe they possess special attributes, which enable them to survive the cold. Using the animal skins, women would use most of their time making clothing for the community.

  • Coat, 6.12.65/653, Coat, 6.12.65/653, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Coat, 6.12.65/653, Horniman Museum and Gardens

Have you heard of the cassava root? It’s a starchy vegetable native to Central and South America that grows steadily in the Amazon rainforest.

The indigenous Waiwai eat lots of this vegetable but it has to be prepared properly, as it contains a poison called cyanide.

This cassava grater pictured below was made and used by the Waiwai people. It takes a long time to make, as tiny sharp stones have to be placed in to small holes in the wood, and then sticky tree resin is applied to hold everything in place. Once the cassava has been grated, it is then placed in a squeezer to drain out the poisonous juices. Then the washed and dried cassava is used to make flour, which can be baked into large flatbreads.

  • Cassava grater, 1969.88, Cassava grater, 1969.88, Horniman Museum and Gardens
    Cassava grater, 1969.88, Horniman Museum and Gardens

All over the world, there are many different customs and rituals that happen around food. What are some of yours?

Learn more about everyday cultures in the World Gallery and on our YouTube channel. You can also download learning resources to help you navigate our World Gallery.

 

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.

Previous Next
of 678 items