The Horniman’s Handling Collection of 3,500 objects is one of the largest in the country.

The Handling Collection reflects the permanent collections on display in the galleries and the Garden. The objects link to the natural world, local and global communities (both ancient and modern), and musical instruments.

The Formal Learning, Community Engagement and Volunteering teams provide opportunities for visitors to form their own connections with objects. The Handling Collection is located in the Hands on Base. It is currently closed to the public, but can be accessed through taught school workshops, opportunities for your community group, or research visits.

To find out more about accessing the collection contact us at schools@horniman.ac.uk or communitylearning@horniman.ac.uk

We loan out objects to schools, community groups and musicians. If you are interested in loans, please contact us at schools@horniman.ac.uk.

We have been rethinking how we use the Handling Collection, seeking to change our approach through working with communities whose objects we hold and handle. Examples of these projects include the Rethinking Relationships: Kenyan Community Research Project and Egypt’s Dispersed Heritage.

Our Collections online tool currently only lists some of the objects in our Handling Collection. We are working on making all of our Handling Collection objects available online. If you would like to know more about the collection, contact us at schools@horniman.ac.uk


Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: enquiry@horniman.ac.uk