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Happening at the Horniman: February 2020

From meeting amazing beasts in Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs to making explosive bath bombs, there's a lot to see and do throughout February.

Exhibitions and displays

  • Permian Monsters, Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs, Courtesy of Gondwana Studios
    Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs, Courtesy of Gondwana Studios

Explore fearsome sabre-toothed predators, giant insects and bizarre looking sharks from 252 million years ago in this fascinating, family-friendly exhibition, Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs, travelling to the UK for the first time.

Come face to face with fossil skeletons as well as full-size models and animatronics that bring the Permian period back to life. You can also sift through interactive dig pits and get creative in the Art Area.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs opens Saturday 15 February, tickets are available now. For families unable to visit during busy periods a relaxed morning opening will be taking place on Thursday 16 April, 9am – 10am.

Step into the immersive Stages of Making, produced by a collective of local community members working with artist Katie Schwab. All the artworks have a story to tell about design, techniques and time. Works include painted walls, table tops made from yoghurt pots and a giant rag-rug created from used t-shirts by members of the public. You can also contribute to a growing live archive in the exhibition by taking part in creative workshops and trying a range of creative processes inspired by some of the Horniman's collections.

Visitors can see Ed Sheeran’s custom-built ‘x’ Martin & Co. acoustic-electric guitar on display in the Music Gallery until Friday 31 May 2020. This guitar was played during the star singer-songwriter’s 2015 North American tour promoting his phenomenally successful second studio album x (Multiply), which was released in 2014. It was used for songs such as ‘Photograph’ and ‘One’.

The photographic series Turn it Up: On Paradoxes from Jide Odukoya highlights a paradox of opulence, with underlying economic poverty. His works highlights the importance of extravagant celebration to Nigerian cultural identity because the wealth supporting it is fragile. View the spirited exhibition in the Balcony Gallery now.

The dramatic As I Live and Breathe in the Natural History Gallery and Gallery Square is open now. The thought-provoking series of works created by award-winning, internationally exhibited visual artist Claire Morgan draw upon the theme of waste at the impact on their environment.

Say hello to Green Turtle taxidermy on loan from the Natural History Museum, and learn about what we can all do to help conserve sea turtles in the Natural History Gallery.

Always Part of the Story depicts hidden and visible aspects of disability. The display from The Access Advisory Group shows that the world can be experienced and understood in many ways. The display is on until June 2020 in World Gallery.

Half Term activities

We have activities for families every weekday during February half-term. All activities are suitable for ages 3-8 years unless otherwise stated. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

  • Bath Bomb Workshops , Bath Bomb Workshops, Einstein's Entertainers
    Bath Bomb Workshops, Einstein's Entertainers

Kids can make an explosive bath bomb full of fizzy fun in Einstein’s Entertainers fantastic workshops. They will learn the science of natural explosions and volcanoes and take home their own creative piece of bath bomb lava to put in the bath.

Join in some volcanic art and craft fun inspired by our new Permian Monsters exhibition in MAKE! Permian Volcanoes.

In Horniman Explorers: Permian Monsters you can explore real museum objects linked to the Permian period.


  • Spinning yarn workshop, Spinning Yarn Workshop
    Spinning Yarn Workshop

Come and develop an understanding of how to make thread out of fibre using wool as the medium in a workshop led by Julian Cooke on Saturday 1 February. Participants will learn and practice basic practical skills including how to sort and card fleece, how to spin yarn on a drop spindle as well as giving an introduction to spinning on a wheel. 

If you drop in to the Hands on Base at the weekends, you can touch and explore objects from the amazing Handling Collection. Saturday morning sessions have different themes each week and in the Sunday sessions you can get close to any of the objects that fascinate you.

On select Saturdays children can create using exciting art techniques and materials in Art Makers. As a family they can design something fabulous to take home inspired by our collections.

On the first Sunday of every month, you can explore the volumes of books in our library. Come and have a chat with our Librarian on Sunday 2 February on our Library Open Day.

Come along to Hear it Live! every Thursday and see performances and talks based 17th and 18th century instruments including three from the Finchcocks Collection.

Pick upyour weekly essentials direct from independent and local producers at our weekly Horniman Market, open every Sunday. Enjoy seasonal fruit and veg, artisan bread, organic meat and delicious hot food as well as regular guest traders specialising in treats such as luxury chocolates, homemade jams and irresistible cakes.

Join lively Busy Bees sessions for Under 5s and their carers every Tuesday during term-time. Storytellers change every week, with enchanting stories from around the world, songs and a whole lot of Horniman fun On Thursday afternoons the Horniman becomes an age-friendly place to socialise and join in with musical-activities for all abilities.

Join our popular storytellers for A World of Stories on select Sundays throughout the year and see the collections and Gardens brought to life with stories from around the world.

If you are a new visitor to the Horniman or would like a refresh to our collections then come along to one of our Welcome to the Horniman Tours. Tours with our fantastic Visitor Hosts take place every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. You could also take one of our Curiosity Talks for an interesting insight into all manner of things, inspired by our collections every Tuesday and Thursday.

Please Note

  • Butterfly House, Phil Sofer
    , Phil Sofer

    • The Gardens will close at 5.20pm until Sunday 9 February 2020 and then 5.50pm until Sunday 8 March.
    • The Horniman Butterfly House has been closed while work is carried out to replace the pathway inside. We are sorry for any disappointment that this may cause but look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Butterfly House by Saturday 15 February 2020.
      The Horniman butterflies will be taking a winter holiday with ZSL London Zoo while the work takes place.

    • We’re sorry there are no bees for you to see at the moment. Our bee colony has sadly died out, probably due to the old age of our queen bee. This is a natural process that also happens in the wild. We will welcome a new colony of bees in March or April, once the weather is warm enough for us to safely move them.