Human Remains

The human remains in the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ collection come from many different places and time periods.

Some human remains date from Frederick Horniman’s founding collection, including the Ancient Egyptian mummified remains. Most human remains came into the collection after the current Museum was established in 1901: notably, during the 1920s for a physical anthropology display and in the 1970s for a display on human evolution. We recognise that these historic displays were racist and did not treat human remains in a respectful or dignified way.

Human remains have a personal, cultural, symbolic, spiritual or religious significance to individuals, communities of origin and other groups, which places a special responsibility on the museums that hold them.

We are committed to decision-making on the future of human remains, informed first and foremost by communities of origin.  In certain circumstances, such as in the absence of living descendants, we recognise we may need to consult with scientists, academics, Horniman staff, audiences and other stakeholders.

In order to be open and transparent about the Horniman collections and their origins, and in line with best practice, we made a commitment in our Human Remains Policy to publish a full list of the human remains online.

The human remains are listed by continent. These lists include human skeletal remains as well as hair, teeth and nails, and modified artefacts that include human remains. Unfortunately, there are a number of human remains where the provenance has not been recorded. These are also listed in the documents below.

We are committed to working cooperatively with communities of origin to ensure that all human remains are cared for appropriately, and that any display or research involving human remains takes into consideration the wishes of descendants and cultural custodians.

If you want further information on the collections, please contact us on