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Let's go fly a kite

Ahmadzia Bakhtyari has been hard at work over the last few months, making kites which will go into our World Gallery in Spring 2018.

Watch this video below to see how he has made these kites.

You can meet Ahmadzia at our Refugee Week event on Saturday 24 June, and take part in his free kite-making workshops. Once you have made your kite, come and fly it with us in the Gardens at the end of the day.

Find out more about Refugee Week 2017 at the Horniman or the World Gallery.

Taxidermy on Film

Dan Brown (MASH Cinema) is providing the film programme for our Taxidermy Late. Here he tells us a bit more about it.

My view of taxidermy is shaped by Jan Švankmajer’s film, ‘Alice’; a little macabre but truly captivating. Even now, wandering around natural history galleries in museums, I love looking at the specimens and the characters created by the taxidermists.

When programming the films for the Horniman’s Taxidermy Late, I wanted to include a mixture of genres, allowing me to explore different areas of this fascinating subject. Hopefully showing a truer representation of it: one of integrity, artistry and scientific discovery.

Below is a short introduction to some of the selected films.

'The Taxidermist' by Bertie Films

Produced by Warp Films, this eccentric short film explores what would happen if pets lived forever, thus leaving a taxidermist without work.

'Le Taxidermiste' by Le Taxidermiste Team

This beautifully made French animation deals with the fate of a taxidermy collection after the death of its creator. It’s time to say goodbye to what is left behind.

‘Taxidermists’ by Nicole Triche

This documentary follows two taxidermists at the biennial World Taxidermy Competition, providing a glimpse into the often overlooked world of art, science and competition.

Modern Taxidermy: Mounting the Indian Elephant from American Museum of Natural History

Rich Remsberg’s edit of this archival film (1927) documents Carl Akeley's taxidermy process from the raw hide to the finished display.

These films will be shown in collaboration with Electric Pedals who will use the energy created by the audience to power the cinema.

Today is the last day you can buy tickets for Taxidermy Late in advance: book yours now to be in with the chance of skipping the queues and having enough time to watch MASH Cinema's fabulous film selection.

Extreme Curator: Dark

In Paolo's fifth and final #ExtremeCurator challenge, he found himself trying to navigate the Natural History Gallery here at the Horniman in complete darkness.

One of the environments explored in our Extremes exhibition, opening this weekend, is extreme darkness. Many animals live their entire lives without sunlight, and have adapted to survive without relying on their sight.

During his challenge, Paolo tried to adopt some of the techniques used by these animals to navigate his way to a ringing phone. He discovered that, in total darkness, even familiar places become strange and confusing.

Watch the video to see Paolo attempt echolocation, and hear him talk about some of the animals that are far better adapted to extreme darkness.

Paolo's #ExtremeCurator challenges have seen him face cold, heat, aridity, low loxygen levels, and now darkness. Watch all the challenge videos on Youtube or follow all the updates on Twitter.

Extremes opens at the Horniman on Saturday 15 February 2014. Tickets can be booked online.

Extreme Curator: Dry

After the humid heat of his hot yoga class, Paolo's next Extreme Curator challenge was to face the dry heat of the desert.

To experience the extreme environment of the Sahara Desert, we travelled to the Centre for Air Conditioning and Refridgeration Research at London South Bank University. Their environmental chamber can be brought down to an arid 20% relative humidity, while the temperature is cranked up to a toasty 43°C.

Once again, the human body's ability to sweat came into play, although this time in the dry air made it a far more effective strategy for keeping cool.

Watch the video to see why sweating isn't always such a good idea, and find out how other animals cope with dry desert conditions.

Spending a short time in these conditions wasn't too hard on our Extreme Curator, which hints a little at the fact that the human body is actually quite well-adapted to cope in the heat. This is in part due to the fact we as a species evolved in Africa, and have not lost our adaptations which allowed us to thrive in the continent's hot climates.

There is still one Extreme Curator challenge for Paolo to face before he has experience the full range from our upcoming Extremes exhibition. You can keep up with his adventures on Twitter or subscribe to our Youtube Channel to see the latest #ExtremeCurator updates.

Extremes opens at the Horniman on Saturday 15 February 2014. Tickets can be booked online.

Extreme Curator: Hot

With his cold and low oxygen challenges complete, this week it was time for our Extreme Curator to feel the heat.

Paolo bravely agreed to join a class at Hot Bikram Yoga, near London Bridge, in his Extreme Curator 'uniform' to experience some of the effects of heat on the human body.

The poses weren't the only challenge in the class; the room was heated to around 40°C, which encourages the body to relax and stretch further. Of course, it also encourages the human body to sweat, allowing us to see a very human adaptation to extreme heat.

Watch the video to see how Paolo coped with the heat and find out how other animals have adapted to extreme environments:

Paolo still has two more extreme environments from our upcoming Extremes exhibition to experience. You can keep up with his adventures on Twitter or subscribe to our Youtube Channel to see the latest #ExtremeCurator updates.

Extremes opens at the Horniman on Saturday 15 February 2014. Tickets can be booked online.

Bioblitz: the video

After a year of Bioblitz, the project is soon coming to an end.

We have almost finished the reviews themselves - we have only one more to do! - and are now ready to begin sharing our findings with everyone.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be celebrating some of our more exciting finds and discoveries.

In the meantime, we have made a short video about the process in action. Twelve expert reviewers, eleven different reviews, several staff and volunteers and 250,000 natural history specimens have been involved over the last year.

Watch the video to get an idea of how we went about looking at a quarter of a million specimens in one year.


The Horniman Walrus moves to Margate

The Horniman Walrus has made his way to Margate to feature in the Hayward Touring exhibition Curiosity: Art & The Pleasures of Knowing at Turner Contemporary.

While many of you have been following his progress with our liveblog and on Twitter, Acapmedia have been filming the whole event. They've produced this fantastic timelapse film documenting the Walrus leaving the Natural History Gallery for the first time since 1901. 

The Walrus will be away until September, but until then you can visit the Natural History Gallery and leave a message for him on the Walrus Wall.

Intriguing cheese horse - what can you tell us?

A few weeks ago, we found an intriguing object in our collections - a horse made of cheese.


We don't know a lot about this horse - it's made from cheese, it's from Poland, and came into our collections in the 1950s.

What can you tell us about it? 

We found the cheese horse while working on a three-year project, called Collections People Stories, to review our anthropology collections. We're hoping to find out more about the collections, what they are and what they mean to our visitors and communities.

Update: London's Polish Cultural Institute pointed out another cheese horse in Krakow's Ethnographic Museum. Their cheese horse - called Bar'ańczyk - is made from sheep's cheese, and was a toy gift for children.


Steve Leonard visits the Horniman

In October, Natural History TV presenter and Horniman Patron Steve Leonard visited the Horniman for the first time.

He spent time looking over our planned animal enclosure in the Gardens and at our Aquarium with Aquarium Manager Jamie Craggs. He was particularly interested in the Aquarium team's work in coral research. Deputy Keeper of Natural History Paolo Viscardi also showed him around the Natural History Gallery.

Take a look at the video below to hear his thoughts - or read Steve's blog.

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