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Horniman Museum, London: ‘Interactive, intelligent and inspiring’ – assessment | Travel

In a nutshell

This good little museum in south-east London, devoted to anthropology, pure historical past and musical devices, feels as if it was created for teenagers, who love its alternatives for enjoyable and play. An aquarium, steamy butterfly home, reside animals, and devices to bang deliver a lot of noisy pleasure to a go to, whereas the principle Natural History Gallery’s taxidermy animals embody a Bengal tiger, and the well-known over-stuffed walrus.

The Horniman walrus

What’s new?

The new 600-square-metre World Gallery opens this week (on 29 June), with a blinding, densely packed show of greater than three,000 objects from cultures from all around the world. They have been chosen from the 350,000-item assortment begun by Victorian tea dealer and philanthropist Frederick Horniman, who aimed to “bring the world to Forest Hill” by way of his museum when it opened in 1901. The house – beforehand internet hosting African Worlds – has been fully redesigned and the brand new gallery options round 10 occasions as many objects from the museum’s assortment, spanning the 5 inhabited continents.

Fun truth

Merman, Horniman Museum, London

The Horniman’s merman. Photograph: Heini Schneebeli/Horniman Museum

One of the Horniman’s oddest displays, and now a part of the World Gallery, is its 100-plus-year-old merman (male mermaid), the so-called Japanese monkey-fish. Such objects have been made in Japan to satisfy western demand created by the recognition of PT Barnum’s hoax, the Feejee Mermaid, however have been typically bought within the 19th century by con artists hoping to move them off as actual animals.

Best issues about it

The sheer number of issues to see and do. I reside domestically and have two toddlers, so I’ve visited the museum most weeks for the previous 5 years. We truthfully discover one thing new each time, whether or not that’s the sundial path within the gardens or the reside bees and mice to observe within the Nature Base. Interactivity is essential right here. The Hands On Base room, open at weekends, lets youngsters deal with a number of the assortment, equivalent to puppets and masks. They can gown up in camouflage and sit in a Mood Room with multi-coloured lights on the present exhibition Colour: The Rainbow Revealed (till 28 October). Week-day storytelling and artwork lessons are clever and galvanizing too, and there are at all times pop-up occasions, equivalent to Plonk loopy golf this summer season.

Children try on African head wraps.

Children strive on African head wraps. Photograph: Megan Taylor

The new World Gallery is mind-blowing to anybody eager about different cultures. Beautiful treasures from the historic assortment – a Tuareg camel saddle, English “hagstones” to push back witches – are cleverly complemented by a number of fashionable bits to spotlight the continuation of cultures. The most attention-grabbing items are organized on the backside of the instances, the place youngsters can see them.

A Horniman technician adjusts the Tuareg camel saddle on display in the World Gallery.

A technician adjusts the Tuareg camel saddle on show within the World Gallery. Photograph: Tania Dolvers

A display screen reveals footage of a Tibetan rapper, there’s some Nigerian high fashion, the prow of a Libyan refugee boat. Three totem poles play recorded First Nations tales when buttons are pressed, and kids can sit behind a Lagos Market stall dealing with containers of footwear. It’s value typing the digital code on every merchandise’s label into the Horniman web site in your cellphone as you discover, to entry extra astounding tales and knowledge that can deliver all of it to life on your fees.

What about lunch?

The cafe terrace at the Horniman.

The cafe terrace on the Horniman. Photograph: Ludovic des Cognets

The cafe is nice. Very pleasant employees, plus good pasta bolognese (£four.25), jacket potatoes (£four), falafel salad (£7.75) and sandwiches (£four.15), youngsters’ containers (£four.85) and more healthy lollies (£1.25) and ice-creams (£2.50). On busier days two different kiosks open, exterior the cafe and close to the bandstand, useful for chilly meals and low. There’s an incredible farmers’ market on Saturdays (9am-1.30pm), whereas the hilltop backyard is a stunning picnic spot, with a few of London’s greatest views.

Exit by way of the giftshop?

Nope. It’s self-contained, however the youngsters would possibly drag you in to see the science-themed video games and toys, bug viewers (£eight.50), mini-African drums (£6) and T-shirts depicting the well-known walrus (£12).

Getting there

The nearest station in London is Forest Hill, served by Southern trains from Highbury & Islington, London Bridge, Victoria and East Croydon, and London Overground. It’s a 10- minute stroll from the station – go the again path to the hilltop backyard through Manor Mount and Westwood Park fairly than the extra direct route alongside the busy south round.

The museum’s gardens are spectacular.

The museum’s gardens are spectacular. Photograph: C Churcher

Value for cash

As a lot of it’s free, completely. The charges for the aquarium (£four adults, £2.50 youngster), butterfly home (£5.40 adults and kids), and short-term exhibition (£7 adults, £four youngster) are cheap, although it may very well be value becoming a member of as a member, which prices from £29 per yr for one plus visitor, giving limitless entrance to all these and 10% off within the present store.

Opening hours

Museum day by day 10am-5.30pm; cafe day by day 9.30am-5.30pm; gardens from 7.15am (Sun and Bank hols from 8am) till sundown.

Verdict

9/10. I don’t suppose I’m only a biased native once I say that is a tremendous museum for teenagers of all ages. The solely adverse is that the cafe can get very crowded, though service is at all times quick and the meals good.


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