Bring the World Gallery to the Horniman

The new World Gallery will celebrate the wonder and complexity of what it means to be human. Support us and be part of this amazing project.

We did it!

On 7th Nov 2017 we successfully raised £25,957 with 310 supporters in 42 days

The World Gallery crowdfunder has now closed but you can still donate to the World Gallery appeal and find out more about the project on the Horniman website.

We need your help to create a new, free gallery at the Horniman.

The World Gallery will celebrate what it means to be human. It will include more than 3,000 extraordinary objects from around the world, works of art and fun things to touch, play with and even smell. The World Gallery will be a place of inspiration for visitors of all ages and will promote tolerance, respect and empathy.

The World Gallery is due to open in June 2018. As a charity, we've had lots of organisations helping us get towards the £4.6million we need to make it happen, we now need your help.

New rewards have just been released - see more information further down.

World Gallery balcony and aisle. Planning and design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates.

What is the World Gallery?

Our Anthropology collection has expanded over more than a century. The new anthropology gallery will showcase this collection, from exploring the different ways people live to what brings us joy.

Visitors will be able explore their own and other cultures, and develop an appreciation of the similarities and differences between them.

Find out more about what we have planned in the World Gallery below, and how we are transforming the space.

Why are we doing this?

Over the years, the impressive building that Frederick Horniman gave to the community started to fall into disrepair. Damp walls, inflexible spaces and poor lighting were affecting the collections and the experience of our visitors.

Research revealed that, although innovative at the time of their development, the old African Worlds and Centenary Galleries were seen as having outdated content, interpretation and style of display. Unable to show the breadth of our collections, visitor numbers were decreasing. We realised we needed to bring new life to our galleries and anthropology displays.

The changes we’ll make

Some much needed TLC and structural changes will re-introduce daylight to the South Hall, enhancing the visitor experience and recapturing the spirit of the original building.

Visitors will find access easier, both in terms of layout and through new information showing the breadth and depth of the Anthropology collection. Visitors will be able to use all their senses to understand the collection, whether through object handling, interactives or playful exhibits. 

One of the banners which will be displayed in the new gallery created by Ed Hall, with input from our lovely volunteers.

Why we need your help

Museums and galleries are facing challenging times with local and national governments making tough decisions about funding. Rather than developing and enhancing collections, some are having to look at cuts and reducing activities.

We have successfully raised money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant-making bodies, including Foyle Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Pilgrim Trust, the Sackler Trust, Viridor Credits and the Wolfson Foundation. We are so close to our total, but now we need your help.

We are asking for £30,000 in donations to bring the World Gallery to the Horniman. Please donate, and share our crowdfunder as widely as possible.

Your support will help us care for, and share, this important resource with a wide range of audiences for generations to come. This is your opportunity to create a really special place for you, your friends, neighbours and the community.

Help us to inspire people, and ensure there are no barriers in connecting with our collections.

What will it look like? 

The main elements are:

The World Gallery
Downstairs we are transforming one of our major spaces into the World Gallery. This will showcase and interpret objects from five continents, revealing the strength and depth of this incredible collection. On the Balcony upstairs we will tell the story of Frederick Horniman’s original gift and inspirational founding vision to provide ‘recreation, education and enjoyment’ for the community. There will also be an area for photographic exhibitions.

This new gallery will include:

  • Visitors will be welcomed into the new gallery with an introduction to the emotional role that objects play in our daily lives. Digital displays will present local people talking about their personal treasures, and visitors will be encouraged to reconsider the significance of objects on display elsewhere, questioning those we place value on and why.
  • At the heart of the gallery are a series of encounters presenting slices of life from the Americas, Africa, Oceania, Europe and Asia. Originating from communities across the globe, the objects celebrate human creativity, imagination and adaptability from the past to the present-day.
  • Beyond these encounters, different perspectives on our collections will explore the many ways that people understand and describe the world. Highlighting universal categories and ideas, objects will be displayed in different groups to pose questions about how people classify the material world around them.
  • Frederick Horniman’s founding vision for the museum will be explored with objects from Surrey House, the forerunner of the present Museum. Horniman gave his museum and its collections to the people of London to help them discover the world – a legacy that lives on in the new gallery.
  • The gallery space is completed with kites and banners hanging from the newly renovated ceiling vault. Collected and commissioned from Guatemala, China, London and beyond, these emblems signify the global instinct to come together in celebration, play or protest.

Learning and engagement
For the last 50 years we’ve been renowned for our unique handling collection, offering the opportunity to touch objects from our collections such as a shark's jaw or a piece of an Ancient Egyptian coffin. We are developing new ways to engage with local people, community groups and school children with a new learning programme.

We will encourage a wider appreciation of our collection, examining its history, connections and relevance to people today by creating lessons for schools and resources for teachers and families, alongside resources and information in the gallery.

Conservation of architectural heritage
There will be vital architectural and infrastructure improvements in the gallery. The refurbishment and repair works will enable us to preserve both our internationally significant collection and our historic buildings.

Our Grade 2* listed Museum was designed in 1896 in the Arts and Crafts style by Charles Harrison Townsend, and our much-loved clocktower and original buildings were chosen by the people of Lewisham as their iconic building for the 2012 Olympics celebrations. This area of south London does not have as many cultural facilities and architecturally important buildings as other parts of London, which makes the Horniman all the more important.

Copyright Peter Cook.


There are now two newly-released rewards available. You can receive a Limited Edition print specially created for the World Gallery crowdfunding campaign. This vibrant and colourful print will have a personalised message of thanks from the Horniman’s Director on the reverse.

Designed by Tanya Cornish of Chutney Chorus


A behind-the-scenes tour for two of the Horniman’s stores. This is your chance to see up close our amazing collections not on public display, including Ancient Egyptian mummies, poisoned arrows and an Arts and Crafts harpsichord. These fascinating expert-led tours will be December 2017 & January 2018.


Become part of the campaign and there are lots of rewards you can choose from. You can go on a behind-the-scenes tour, meet our curators, get an limited edition tote bag or even throw a party in the new gallery.

What is the Horniman?

Since opening in 1901, the award-winning Horniman Museum and Gardens in south London has provided an inspiring introduction to life on Earth. 

We have internationally important collections of Anthropology and Musical Instruments, alongside an acclaimed Aquarium, a new Butterfly House, our Natural History collection and 16.5 acres of beautiful Gardens. All of this enable the Horniman to draw together issues and stories relating to people, places, cultures and environments at a local, national and international level.

The Horniman actively seeks to engage people of all ages, back-grounds and abilities. We have an exceptional record of educational achievement and encourage participation from as wide a range of people as possible. We work with some of London’s most vulnerable and marginalised local communities. Our talented staff are helping drive good practice and innovation in the wider cultural sector through membership of professional networks, training and dissemination.

The story so far

Since then we’ve been working on this project to create the World Gallery:

  • 2012 – We started to review our Anthropology Collection thanks to funding we received from Arts Council England.
  • 2013 – The review led to a plan to redisplay our Anthropology Collection. The Horniman applied for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) for this.
  • 2014 – Stage 1 funding was awarded in Oct 2014.
  • 2015 – Planning the project and consultation with our stakeholders.
  • Dec 2015 – Second stage application was submitted to HLF.
  • May 2016 - Plans to create a World Gallery at the Horniman received the green light, thanks to confirmed funding from the HLF.
  • Sept 2016 - The African Worlds and Centenary Galleries closed.
  • Sept – Nov 2016 – Taking out all the objects that were in the two galleries (very carefully!)

  • Nov 2016 – Building works started. All the empty cases in the gallery were taken out. New environmentally friendly heating and air vents were installed.
  • Feb 2017 – Scaffolding erected around the building. Contractors restored the roof penthouses.
  • June 2017 – Work on ceiling fin to allow natural light back into the gallery complete.
  • August 2017 – Kites and banners installed.
  • Oct 2017 – Building the new cases in the gallery.
  • November 2017 – February 2018 – installing around 3,000 objects into the World Gallery.
  • June 2018 – Opening time!

Thank you for your support.

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