Over the weekend Sam and I took a long walk down to the Horniman Museum. Fredrick John Horniman opened the museum in the early 1900s based on the extensive collection of unique items that his position in a wealthy tea-trader family afforded him. The museum contains an eclectic bunch of things; from natural history artefacts to old musical instruments to anthropological exhibits. The most famous resident of the museum is the Canadian walrus. He’s worth a google. But my personal favourite was the merman. No, I’m not kidding.
The natural history section is super interesting but as it was put together at the turn of the 20th century it relies on some pretty old-school methods of teaching. Including 100s of taxidermied animals which are now over 100 years old. And some of them I found quite shocking and disturbing. Like mounted heads of domestic dogs like greyhounds and pekinese. Other animals are permanently frozen mid-disection forever so I guess the dogs got lucky. But considering the amount of excitable children that are also present at the Horniman, the kids aren’t as disturbed by this as I was.
On the museum grounds there are also 16 acres of gardens, a bandstand, a conservatory, a library, an aquarium and a small farm. Every Saturday there’s a farmer’s market on the grounds of the Horniman until about 2 pm.
It’s certainly a unique day out, and seems to be a hit with kids. Especially if you couple it with the nearby Crystal Palace dinosaurs. The museum has the odd roadside-museum-attraction quality of classic Americana stops like “the rattlesnake museum” or the world’s largest collection of dolls.