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Things to see and do

Grasslands Garden

Wander through wild landscapes featuring spectacular plants from North American prairie and South African grasslands. 

The new Grasslands Garden celebrates critically threatened wild landscapes and has species flowering across the summer months, from pasqueflower to prairie dock and goldenrods to wild gladiolus.

Complementing the new World Gallery, the naturalistic planting scheme was devised by Olympic Park designer James Hitchmough. His research explores how wild landscapes can inform urban green space design to create stunning wild flower displays that are also sustainable and support local wildlife.

Display Gardens

These botanical displays have been carefully created by our gardeners and curators to unite our indoor and outdoor collections. They reflect themes from the materials which make up our anthropology collection, to outdoor examples of instruments to be found in the Music Gallery.

The Conservatory

This Grade II listed Victorian Conservatory was originally built at the Horniman family house at Coombe Cliffe, Croydon, in 1894. By 1982, it had fallen into disrepair. The structure was dismantled and moved to its current site where it was beautifully restored with the help of English Heritage. It re-opened in 1989 and is used for performances, workshops, and as a function room.

The Conservatory is available for hire. Visit the Venue Hire pages for more information.


Enjoy a breathtaking vista of London from this restored Bandstand built in 1903 from a design by Charles Harrison Townsend. It is a focal point for our outdoor summer events programme such as concerts or film screenings, while surrounding terrace provides a large picnic area with stunning views.

The Bandstand is available for hire. Visit the Venue Hire pages for more information.

The Dutch Barn 

Brought back from Holland by Frederick Horniman, the Dutch Barn dates from around 1895. It now provides a useful indoor shelter for picnics in inclement weather.


Our new pavilion building makes the most of the stunning skyline, while playing host to community and education events.

The Pavilion is available for hire. Visit the Venue Hire pages for more information.

Wildlife Garden

An outdoor classroom packed with ideas for how to attract wildlife to gardens and green spaces. Groups can book it for their own use, and we also run facilitated school and community group sessions.

Visit the Learning pages to find out more about visiting with your school or group.

South Downs

A quiet contemplative area at the eastern edge of the site offering views over Kent and the South Downs. Perfect for a picnic.

Meadow field

A large green space below the Bandstand and the area of the Gardens where dogs are allowed off the lead. The area originally included a boating pond, constructed in the 1920's, but this was drained and resurfaced in the 1960's and is now used as a play area.


Established with the help of the British Sundial Society, the Horniman Gardens are home to a unique collection of sundials. Follow our trail and see how many you can find on your visit.

The Totem Pole

Carved in 1985 as part of the American Arts Festival by Nathan Jackson, a Tingit Indian from Alaska, our totem pole is now firmly established as a south London landmark.

Nature Trail

The Horniman Nature Trail is the oldest in London. It is roughly half a mile long on the site of the original Crystal Palace and South London Junction Railway. The railway was closed in 1954 and the area was left unmanaged until 1972. This resulted in it becoming a wild woodland area.

Today, the trail is managed carefully to encourage a wide variety of plants, birds, insects and other animals which depend on each other for survival. Pond and meadow habitats have been introduced to attract new species, and a log pile area is home to dozens of different mini beasts, including the endangered stag beetle.

The trail is a sensitive area and much time goes into managing it for your enjoyment. Please help us to look after the area by not taking dogs onto the trail and by taking all of your litter home with you. Guide dogs are allowed. Please do not pick any leaves or flowers. They are an important part of the nature trail habitats and some can be sharp or sting.

The main entrance to the Nature Trail is located on the cycle path that runs parallel with the Museum and Gardens and can be accessed from London Road.

It is open from 9am - 4pm, but may be closed at short notice during bad weather.
Please check with the Information Desk at the start of your visit or call 020 8699 1872.

Animal Walk

A new addition in 2013, the Animal Walk lets visitors walk through the centre of the enclosures for a close encounter with its furry and feathered residents.

Activity Packs and Trails

Download the following activity packs and trails to use during your visit to the Gardens.

Display Gardens

Our unique display gardens have been created by our gardeners and curators, uniting our indoor and outdoor collections.  

Medicinal Garden

Planted in ten ‘body part’ sections, the Medicine Garden features a range of plants used to treat illness in different areas of our body. Some are local remedies that have persisted through time while others have formed the basis of modern medicines.

Materials Garden

The materials garden features plants used by people around the world to make products as diverse as building materials to textiles and musical instruments.

Sunken Garden

Built in 1936, the Arts and Crafts style Sunken Garden has spectacular floral displays in spring and late summer. It is now part of our Display Gardens and contains plants used as natural dyes.

Flowering June to September

The summer bedding display in the Sunken Garden features lobelia, carex, petunias and marigolds in six colours, planted in rectangular and square blocks inspired by the LEGO® bricks in the Brick Wonders exhibition.

Dye Garden 

A traditional sunken garden space combining colourful annual bedding schemes with exhibition planting. Discover a huge array of natural plant dyes and the processes used to produce them.

Sound Garden

This hands-on garden space inspired by our musical instruments collection features world instruments you can play on a giant scale.

Map of the Gardens

Click on the image below for a printable version of our Gardens map.


Dogs are allowed in our Gardens, but must be kept on leads. Dogs can be released from their leads in the Meadow Fields.

Dogs must be kept on leads during events in the Gardens (concerts, performances, etc).

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