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An oil painting of Frederick Horniman sat at a desk

Horniman’s Vision

Discover the history of the Horniman, as well as the life of our founder, Frederick Horniman, in Horniman's Vision.

The displays include ancient pottery, European armour and items of natural history from Surrey House, Frederick’s family home, which he opened to the public on the site of the present Museum.

Frederick Horniman gave his Museum, Gardens and collections to ‘the people in perpetuity’ in 1901 to help them discover the world – a legacy that lives on in Horniman today.

Frederick Horniman started collecting in 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park. The Exhibition probably inspired his lifelong fascination with collecting objects, and with the world and its variety of peoples.

Frederick’s Quaker upbringing would have helped to shape his concern for the poor and his commitment to education for all. His father, John, led by example by giving much of his wealth to charity.

Frederick’s collections grew over the years to such an extent that they took over his house. He built a new house, and the old family home became Surrey House Museum.

Not long afterwards, he built the new, purpose-built museum we now know.