Changing face of anthropology at the Horniman

Changing face of anthropology at the Horniman

A painting of tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, founder of the Horniman Museum in London

The gallery redevelopment, which will take three years to complete, will transform the way the Horniman displays its Anthropology collection – a designated collection of national and international importance – bringing more than 3,000 artefacts from around the world to public view, many for the first time. It follows the Horniman's three-year Collections, People, Stories review which revealed the strength and depth of the 80,000-strong collection.

Janet Vitmayer, Director of the Horniman Museum and Gardens, says: "This is wonderful news and the start of an incredibly exciting new phase in the Horniman's history. With this redevelopment of our galleries, our public can look forward to seeing and interacting with world-class displays from many more countries and cultures. We want our visitors to be able to stand in our galleries, surrounded by objects and stories from around the world that will move, enlighten, fascinate and inspire them."

The project will also include:

  • restoration of some of the original architectural features of the historic building
  • a flexible, creative studio space for cutting-edge displays and artistic collaborations
  • a new display exploring the history of founder Frederick Horniman and his family, and the origins of the collections and museum

Sandie Dawe MBE, HLF Trustee, said: "The Horniman is a much-loved visitor attraction in South London.  Over the years, HLF has been one of its most staunch supporters and so we’re especially pleased that they’ve continued their ongoing vision with plans for new gallery spaces and an extensive activities programme.  We particularly liked that the museum is getting more of its collection out of the store and on display and will tell the story of the Horniman family themselves. In so doing they will reflect the capital’s reputation as one of the foremost global cities."

Alongside the HLF Heritage Grant funding, the Horniman needs to raise an additional £1.3m from other sources including individual donors, corporate support, trusts and foundations. The redevelopment is scheduled for completion in 2018.

Notes to editors

Collections People Stories is a three-year review of the Horniman’s Anthropology collections, funded through the Horniman Museum’s Major partner museum funding from Arts Council England. The review has highlighted the range, scale and importance of both its stored collections and those on display. The project investigates new and innovative ways of collections research, engagement and interpretation. It also facilitates academic and community consultation and debate, to both unpack the legacy of the Anthropology collections and unlock their values for communities and visitors today. The different activities and events over the course of the project have fed into establishing a vision for redeveloping the Anthropology galleries at the Horniman.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to "bring the world to Forest Hill". Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, anthropology, music and an acclaimed aquarium. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from food and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London. Visitors come time and again to participate in the museum's exciting range of events and activities, sample the tasty delights from the popular cafe, and shop for interesting gifts in the gift shop. Their spaces are available for hire including the stunning Grade II listed Victorian conservatory built in 1894 and newly built Gardens Pavilion.


Horniman Press Office, on tel: 020 8291 8166 or email: