My mother has always had a thing about clutter, her home is prestine, like a copy of Good Homes. But to me I like a bit of kitsch and mess. Keeping the bill from the restaurant you made me laugh at so much that others looked on in jealousy or a postcard from a museum I visited is a memento of the day I can stumble across another time and use to jog back on a fond memory. I’d like to think the premise of the Horniman Museum started the same way, and once butterfly collecting led to the infamous walrus, Mr Horniman was firmly out of control.
The Horniman Musum, crowning a hill in south London, is a collection of all the things in your slightly eccentric Aunt’s house, your dubious uncles study and your little brother’s room. From taxidermied dodos, wolves and lemurs to live bees, an aquarium and a stunning glass conservatory leading to the scenic gardens, the Horniman is a collection of oddities that makes for a great wander on a Sunday afternoon.
Making my way from Brixton to meet a man from down under, we were astounded by just how many stuffed animals there were. Most interestingly was the ‘Mermaid’, a monkey and fish sewn together and then refashioned with papier Mache. Weird. I also saw that dodos are much bigger than I thought they were and must have made a hearty meal for those pirates who watched them walk into cauldrons of hot water and kiwis, the almost extinct national bird of New Zealand, don’t have wings but little fleshy stubs, so bad are their defence mechanisms. Cute.
Go for a day at a slightly morbid, but very interesting dead zoo
Don’t go if you’re freaked out by glass eyes. They’re everywhere.
The damage: Free for the museums and gardens.
£4 for the aquarium
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Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London, SE23 3PQ