Natural History Gallery in Horniman Museum

 Natural History Gallery (North Hall) in Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is a modest museum of natural history and ethnology located in Forest Hill, London, UK. The Horniman  developed in the late nineteenth century as a free museum through the efforts of social improver Frederick John Horniman (1835-1906) using wealth accumulated in a family business, Horniman’s Tea Company (Teague 1993). Since 1901, the Horniman has maintained a combination of galleries, collections, and educational programmes free to the public.

The Natural History Gallery in the Horniman Museum and Gardens contains elements from six main thematic exhibits: 

  1. Locomotion of Animals
  2. Defences of Animals
  3. Survey of Birds
  4. Evidences of Evolution
  5. Evolution of Man
  6. Survey of the Animal Kingdom, starting on the balcony with cases displaying monkeys, apes, and humans located on the ground floor

Another major exhibit in natural history is the Aquarium. The elements focusing on British coastal life mention the work on Philip Henry Gosse, whose advocacy of the aquarium and vivarium helped to launch a mid-Victorian craze for home aquaria. 

Additional displays cover a broad range of subjects. Several cases present the Horniman family. Additional cases engage the cultural history of natural history collecting and display exotica. Space in the gallery also is devoted to temporary exhibits.

The central avenue of the ground floor has been the site for displaying large eye-catching taxidermy ranging from a polar bear to a moose. Currently, a walrus specimen serves as centrepiece and de facto mascot for the museum.

These photo galleries are made available for research purposes in history of science and history of exhibition. They are no substitute for an in-person visit to the museum. Admission is free. It is a splendid experience.

 

Floor Plan of Natural History Gallery

Natural History Gallery (North Hall) in Horniman Museum
Panorama of Natural History Gallery (North Hall) in Horniman Museum. View from balcony facing west. Survey of Animal Kingdom follows the outer wall of the balcony, with British fossils by period follows the inner railing. On ground floor, Locomotion of Animals uses a green/yellow palate. Defences of Animals uses blue. Survey of Birds is to the right (north) of Defences. On ground floor directly underneath the photographer’s position is Evidence of Evolution. Walrus in centre of gallery.

 

Floorplan (ground floor only). Natural History Gallery, Horniman Museum, London. ProfJoeCain 2022
Floor plan (ground floor only) of Natural History Gallery in Horniman Museum. Drawn by ProfJoeCain 2022. Case identifiers correspond with labels on the Floor plan, with numerical identifiers drawn from the cases themselves and alphabetical identifiers added by author.

 

Inventory of Cases in Natural History Gallery

This list provides subject headings for cases in the Natural History Gallery from a survey in summer 2022. Case identifiers correspond with labels on the Floor plan, with numerical identifiers drawn from the cases themselves and alphabetical identifiers added by author.

Some case numbers are repeated in the gallery. This is the result of historical movements of cases around the museum. Repeated case numbers are 20-22, 27-29, 42-44, and 45-47.

 

Natural History Gallery in Horniman Museum view from balcony. Three exhibit are shown: Survey of the Animal Kingdom (balcony), Locomotion of Animals (ground floor left), and Defences of Animals (ground floor right).
Natural History Gallery in Horniman Museum view from balcony. Three exhibit are shown: Survey of the Animal Kingdom (balcony), Locomotion of Animals (ground floor left), and Defences of Animals (ground floor right).

Inventory of cases

 

Disclaimer: The arrangement described here dates to summer 2022, and it was created for research purposes. Exhibitions are subject to change and information here should not be taken to be a perfectly accurate, to scale representation of the gallery. Contact the Horniman Museum for specific information about specific galleries.