Our Living collections are constantly changing and developing, bringing to life founder Frederick Horniman’s vision of an outside space reflecting the Museum’s collections.

The Horniman’s Living Collections consist of four main areas.

Animal Walk

The Animal Walk contains sheep, goats, alpacas, rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens. This display looks at the connection between domesticated animals and their wild relations, and why people live alongside domesticated animals.


An Aquarium has been a part of the Horniman almost since opening. There are 15 exhibits showing aquatic environments from the British pond to Fijian coral reefs. You can find changing displays of fish, jellyfish, coral, frogs and other aquatic creatures. The Aquarium staff are conducting ongoing research into coral reproduction and jellyfish.

Butterfly House

The Butterfly House offers a living link to the many butterfly and moth specimens in the Natural History collections. The ever-changing display of hundreds of butterflies are free-flying in a specially planted tropical indoor garden. Visitors can observe their life cycle in the puparium, as well as learn about butterflies and butterfly conservation.


The Horniman Gardens are home to a fine collection of trees. Some of the trees existed before the Museum as field boundary markers, or originated in the gardens of the Victorian houses that were pulled down in the 20th century.

Alongside the trees are displays showing how plants are used as materials, dyes, medicines and food, as well as illustrating the natural environment from different times and places.

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The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive.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: