London What's On

Exciting Times Ahead at Horniman & Gardens

Horniman Museum & Gardens Events for February to May 2020 listings from the Horniman Museum and Gardens, including information on our new family-friendly exhibition Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs which opens on Saturday 15 February 2020.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs
15 February – 1 November 2020

252 million years ago, in a period called the Permian, life on Earth was dominated by extraordinary creatures. It was a time of fearsome sabre-toothed predators, giant insects and bizarre-looking sharks. The Permian ended with a mass extinction that destroyed 90% of all life, paving the way for the Earth’s next great rulers… the dinosaurs.

In this fascinating, family-friendly exhibition, which is travelling to the UK for the first time, you can discover more about this mysterious time period. On display will be fossil skeletons as well as full-size models and animatronics that bring the Permian back to life. You can also sift through interactive dig pits and get creative in an art area.

A relaxed opening for families who are unable to visit when the Horniman is busy will take place on Thursday 16 April, 9–10am. For more information, please see the Special Events section. In addition, look out for Permian Monsters activities during the school holidays.

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs is a travelling exhibition produced by Gondwana Studios.

Tickets*: Child £5, Adult £9, Family (up to two adults and two children) £20. Horniman Members and Benefactors enjoy free, unlimited entry. *Prices include a voluntary Gift Aid donation which helps support the work of the Horniman.

See for more information and to book tickets.

Stages of Making
Until 19 April 2020

Step into this immersive exhibition in The Studio where all the artworks have a story to tell about design, techniques and time.

Inspired by the history of the Horniman and its collections, Stages of Making is produced by a collective of local community members working with artist Katie Schwab. Works include painted walls, table tops made from yoghurt pots and a giant rag-rug created from used t-shirts by members of the public. Visitors can join in daily making activities to contribute to a live archive or book for one of the special workshops. See the website for more details.

As I Live and Breathe
Until 4 May 2020

Award-winning, internationally exhibited visual artist Claire Morgan has created stunning new pieces for the Horniman, including a dramatic installation in Gallery Square. Claire’s thought-provoking work draws on the theme of waste and the impact that humans have on their surroundings. Her pieces include thousands of fragments of colourful waste polythene frozen in time.

From Birth ’til Death: Scrolled Life Stories
23 May – 23 August 2020

Enter an immersive installation of giant papyrus scrolls and discover local life stories told in symbols. What would your life story look like? This exhibition is the result of a social arts project in partnership with artist R.M. Sánchez-Camus and local organisations including St Christopher’s Hospice, Arts Network and a group of asylum seekers in south London.

Turn It Up: On Paradoxes
  -  Until 21 June 2020

Jide Odukoya’s photographic series shows a contrasting Nigeria through the lens of traditional weddings, highlighting how moments of extravagant celebration are an important part of Nigerian cultural identity because of the fragile wealth that supports it.

Grasslands Garden
Open year round

Wander through wild landscapes in the Grasslands Garden, featuring spectacular plants from North American prairie and South African grasslands. Celebrating critically threatened wild landscapes, during the winter months visitors will be able to see beautiful architectural seed head heads and fading flower spikes.

Linked to the World Gallery, the naturalistic planting scheme was devised by Olympic Park designer James Hitchmough.

Green Turtle
Until May 2021

A magnificent taxidermy mount of a male Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, on loan from the Natural History Museum is on display in the Natural History Gallery. Over 100 years old, this impressive animal was collected off the coast of Nicaragua in Central America and presented to the Natural History Museum in 1906. This small display will showcase the challenges facing Green Turtles and other marine life today and what we can do to protect it.


Regular Family Activities

Hands on Base: Horniman Explorers
Every Saturday, 11am-12.30pm (except 21 & 28 March, 11 April 2020)
Drop into the Hands on Base and join in fun challenges to explore and touch amazing objects from our collections. These fun family sessions will explore a different theme each week, using objects from our Handling Collection. Themes range from animals to costumes and music to toys. Suitable for families with children aged 3+. 
Free, drop-in

Hands on Base: Open for All
Every Sunday, 11am-12.30pm (except 12 April, 17 May)
Touch and explore real Museum objects including shark jaws, masks and musical instruments in our Hands on Base. Everyone welcome.
Free, drop-in

A World of Stories
Every Sunday, 2-2.45pm and 3.15-4pm (except 12 April and 17 May)
Enjoy stories from some of the best storytellers in London. Their tales bring the Horniman’s varied collections to life and will whisk you away to faraway places and different times. Suitable for families with children aged 5+.

BSL Storytelling: A World of Stories
23 February and 29 March, 2-2.45pm and 3.15-4pm
Enjoy tales from around the world, presented by our deaf storyteller and signed in BSL. Stories will be interpreted into spoken English so that any hearing family members can come along and enjoy the sessions too. Suitable for families with children aged 5+. Please check the website for further details.

Art Makers
Every Saturday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm (except 21 & 28 March, 11 & 25 April, 16 May 2020)
Explore exciting art techniques and materials as a family, and create something fabulous to take home inspired by the Horniman’s collections. Different themes each week. Suitable for families with children aged 3+. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Tickets: Child £2.50

Busy Bees
Every Tuesday, 10am, 10.45am, 11.30am (except 18 February, 7 & 14 April, 26 May)
Join lively sessions for under-5s and their parents/carers during term-time. Activities include storytelling, song and a whole lot of Horniman fun. These sessions are not suitable for nursery school groups.
Tickets: Child £2.50

Regular Events

Stay in Tune Thursdays
Every Thursday (except during school holidays), 2–5.15pm
On Thursday afternoons during term time the Horniman becomes an age-friendly space for adults to socialise and enjoy hands-on music sessions, concerts, tours and more. There is extra seating and a more relaxed grown-up atmosphere across the Museum, plus a special offer in the Café.

The regular programme is:
2.30-3.15pm Hands on Music (dementia friendly session)
3.30-4pm Hear it Live! (dementia friendly session)
4.15-5.15pm The Aftershow – a music appreciation discussion
For more information, please contact the Community Engagement team at

Hear it Live! 
Every Thursday, 3.30-4pm

Join us in the Music Gallery every week for concerts featuring our early keyboard instruments from the 17th to 19th centuries. Upcoming performers include Dušan Toroman (square piano), Masumi Yamamoto (virginals) and Callum Anderson (organ). Please visit the website for full details

Curiosity Talks
Tuesdays 4pm and Saturdays 11.30am
Enjoy talks on a range of fascinating objects and topics, delivered by our Visitor Hosts.
Free, drop in

Welcome to the Horniman Tours 

Wednesdays and Saturdays 4pm, Sundays 11.30am
Our Visitor Hosts provide a short introduction to the Horniman on these informal tours.
Free, drop in

Horniman Market
Every Sunday, 10am–3pm

Visit our weekly market to enjoy a range of delicious hot food, pick up fresh and seasonal produce from local traders, and treat yourself to irresistible cakes and craft beer. Located in our glorious Gardens you will also find regular guest traders specialising in everything from natural bodycare to homemade jams. In addition, special markets will take place throughout the year. Please follow us @HornimanMarket or visit the website to find out more
Free entry


Library Open Day
First Sunday of each month, 10.30am-5.30pm

Browse our library collections and see some of the library treasures.
Free, drop in

February Half Term
Monday 17 to Friday 21 February

Bath Bomb Workshops
Monday–Friday, 10am, 11.30am, 1pm, 3pm, 4pm
Make an explosive bath bomb full of fizzy fun with Einstein’s Entertainers! Learn about the science of volcanoes and natural explosions and take home your own piece of bath bomb lava to put in the bath.
Tickets: Child £7.50

MAKE! Permian Volcanoes 
Monday–Friday, 10.30am–12.30pm and 2–4pm
Join in some volcanic art and craft fun inspired by our new Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs exhibition. Get crafty and take home your own creation.
Free, drop in

Horniman Explorers: Permian Monsters

Monday–Friday, 11am–12.30pm, 2–3.30pm
A fun hands on family session exploring real museum objects linked to our new Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs exhibition.

Easter Holidays

Tuesday 7 April to Friday 17 April (except Easter Monday)

MAKE! Spring Birds
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 10.30am-12.30pm
Drop in to make some spring art and craft as part of our bird-themed Easter holiday fun.
Free, drop in

Up in the Air
Friday 17 April

Join Arts Network a mental health and arts charity, for a fun workshop that explores wellbeing and creativity through the theme of flight. In this arts and crafts activity, visitors will contribute to a collaborative piece and make something to take away with them. 
Free, drop in

Horniman Explorers: Egg-splorers

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 11am-12.30pm and 2-3.30pm
Drop into the Hand On Base to take part in fun challenges and touch amazing objects from our collections themed around eggs.
Free, drop in

Horniman Easter Fair
 Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 April, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Enjoy Easter weekend fun at the Horniman with the whole family. Go on our Easter trail, sit down for some storytelling, have your face painted and join in family activities across the Gardens. 
Free entry with some charged activities

May Half Term
Monday 25 to Friday 29 May

MAKE! Save Our Planet

Tuesday 26 and Thursday 28 May, 10.30am-12.30pm
A fun, arty session encouraging children to voice their wishes for our planet’s future. Contribute to an art display about Climate Emergency and take away your own save-our-planet creation.

Horniman Explorers: Save our Planet

Monday 25 and Friday 29 May, 11am-12.30pm and 2-3.30pm
Drop into the Hands on Base to touch amazing objects from our collections, and join in challenges exploring how we can shape a positive future for ourselves and our planet.
Free, drop in

Wednesday 27 May

Join an imaginative arts and crafts activity that explores wellbeing and creativity whilst learning about bees. Visitors will contribute to a collaborative artwork and make something to take home. Run by Arts Network, a mental health and arts charity.
Free, drop in

Special Events

Climate Crisis: Speculative Futures
Thursday 5 March, 6.30-10pm
Join us for a night of interactive experiences created by students from Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts in response to the global climate crisis. With interventions and activities taking place across the Museum and Gardens aimed at inspiring speculation and dialogue, this event will showcase creative ideas for a just transition to a post-carbon society designed and produced by students from across art, design and performance. 
Tickets: £7.50. Over 18s only.


Crossing Borders Common Ground

Saturday 21 March, 11am – 3.30pm
See the Horniman through new eyes! Come along to this exciting event where all performances, activities and workshops are run by people who have recently arrived in south east London. Meet your new neighbours and celebrate the diversity of Forest Hill and our local area.

Bright and Early:

Permian Monsters Relaxed Opening
Thursday 16 April, 9-10am
A relaxed, accessible opening of the Permian Monsters exhibition for families who are unable to visit when the Horniman is busy, including children with autism spectrum conditions and neurodiverse families. A breakout space will be available until 10.30am. For more information or to book, please contact or 020 8291 8725.
Free, but booking required.

Celebrating Early Keyboard Instruments:

Masterclasses and Competition 
Tuesday 28 April to Friday 1 May

Enjoy early keyboard players performing on the Italian virginals and English square piano at a series of masterclasses and a competition. Hear set works by Scarlatti, G Frescobaldi, J Haydn and WA Mozart among others. Masterclasses will take place on Tuesday 28 April (square piano) and Wednesday 29 April (virginals). The competition will take place on Thursday 30 April and Friday 1 May, concluding with an award ceremony and audience prize. Suitable for ages 12+. Please visit the website for full details.
Free, drop in.

Maestros Concert by Maggie Cole, Marcia Hadjimarkos and Catalina Vicens
Wednesday 29 April, 7.15-9pm
A special concert by the acclaimed musicians and judges of the Horniman Early Keyboard Competition who will perform on the square piano and virginals. Suitable for ages 12+. A bar will be available before the concert and at the interval.
Tickets: £5

Dawn Chorus Walk
Saturday 2 May, 5-7am
The best time to experience bird song is in the wee small hours! Join bird expert David Darrell-Lambert on our annual early morning tour of the Horniman Gardens for International Dawn Chorus Day and learn to identify the many bird songs that make up the dawn chorus.
Tickets: Child £5, Adult £7.50

Urban Tree Day
Saturday 16 May
Join us for a family-friendly day of tree exploration and mindfulness. In partnership with The Urban Tree Festival.
Suitable for ages 3+.

Pond Dipping
 Saturdays 25 April and 30 May, 11am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm
Take part in pond dipping sessions to discover the variety of nature and wildlife living in our Nature Trail pond. Suitable for children aged 5+.
Tickets: £2.50

Horniman Family Rave with Big Fish Little Fish
Sunday 17 May, 2-6pm
Get ready for another Big Fish Little Fish family rave featuring DJ legends of London club-land. Join DJs Readers Wifes, Prime Cuts and Bill Brewster for a journey into sound from acid house to hip hop and drum and bass. There will also be food, bars, craft activities, face painting and plenty more family fun. Come throw some shapes in the Horniman Gardens this spring!

Tickets: Child £12.50, Adult £15, pre-walking infant free.