Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Horniman Museum London - Love the place, hate their website.

Front of Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum should have been one of the highlights of our trip. I mean, you usually either find a zoo or a museum, it's not often you can get a good twofer Though a bit outside central London, it is still well worth the effort of getting to it - particularly on such a fine day as it was when we went there. But we were thwarted by their website, and now we still haven't seen a live alpaca. Fortunately, the museum had enough entertainment value to stand on its own. Still...

Businesses with hard to navigate websites, or those who don't put important information on the Home page, are a huge pet peeve of mine. But rarely have I regretted it more than with the Horniman Museum.

Horniman Museum Clock Tower
One of the very best parts of this place, especially if you are going there with kids, is the Animal Walk. I am very conflicted about zoos and aquariums. While I love looking at animals, I know that healthy ones do not have nearly enough room in these places. I'm fine with those who care for sick or rescued animals, but otherwise it's the equivalent of making humans live in a walk in closet.


The Animal Walk at the Horniman Museum offers what seems to be some type of petting zoo with alpacas, goats, sheep, chickens, guinea pigs and more. The animals look quite content and I thought it would be a great place to take the kids. I mean, who doesn't want to see an alpaca?

I'm sure they would have loved it, except the museum's Home page said they closed at 5:30 and made no mention of the fact that the Animal Walk closed at 4. That information does happen to appear on the Animal Walk's page, but it did not occur to me it might be necessary to check anywhere but the Home page for information about hours.

So we missed it. We got there a few minutes before 4 and
Horniman Museum Interior
tried to run to the area with the animals, but it was all the way at the back of the property, so we just gave up about halfway there.

The day wasn't a total loss, since admission was free and there were quite a few interesting things to look at inside and out.

It's got a pretty eclectic collection of displays. It was originally Frederick Horniman's home in the 1800s, and he opened the house and gardens to the public so they could see all the stuff he'd collected. Apparently, the museum has continued in that fashion. 

Horniman Museum Animals display
There is a natural history section, and the animals are mostly extremely well done. It was often hard to tell if they were real or not.

But there were also a lot of anthropological displays, of
Horniman Museum Clothing display
clothes and other artifacts from different cultures.

Horniman Museum Skeletons display
What's cool about this place, besides the animals, is that there are some hands on displays that people are just allowed to pick up and handle. But even the things inside the cases were pretty interesting.

Horniman Museum Victorian building
Just like the Natural History Museum, it had great outdoor spaces. There was a lovely Victorian building right outside.

Horniman Museum sundial
And big wide open spaces to hang out. I think the sundial there was the first I'd ever seen in real life.

In any case, we did manage to find some enjoyment there,
Horniman Museum walrus
and I would definitely recommend the Horniman Museum as a great place to take kids on a nice day. We had only planned to see the Animal Walk, but it's worth planning to spend a few hours so that there is time to see a lot of what's inside the actual museum. In fact, I think it would be a great place to spend the day, taking a picnic lunch to have outside. The grounds are really nice, too.

Horniman Museum grounds
Maybe next time.

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