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Museum visits

We are now taking bookings for onsite school sessions on Mondays and Thursdays from Monday 24 May 2021.

Please contact to book your session. Self-led schools visits are not currently available.

  • Maximum two classes per day. Must be part of the same bubble.
  • You will be greeted and briefed at the Pavilion. This will also be your base for the day and includes toilets, bag and coat storage and space to eat your lunch should wish to.
  • Learning sessions take place in a dedicated space away from other visitors.
  • The Museum itself can only be accessed within a booked timeslot with staggered entry in small groups.
  • The Gardens are open and offer plenty of opportunity to explore, learn and let off steam.
  • Regrettably the Aquarium and Butterfly House are not accessible to groups at present because of reduced capacity in these smaller spaces.
  • If arriving by coach or minibus there is a red route bay on London Road to drop off pupils. There is no parking available on or off site for coaches.
  • Limited parking space onsite is available for those who require close access to the main entrance e.g. wheelchair users. We are unable to reserve parking spaces.
  • Learning sessions are charged at £72.50 (£87.00 inc VAT) per class and last either 45 minutes (EYFS) or 1 hour unless stated otherwise.
  • *The 90 minute Go Outside: Habitat Explorer session is charged at £122.50 (£147.00 inc VAT).
  • Learning sessions for Special Educational Needs classes (up to 12 pupils) last 30-45 minutes and are charged at £36.25 (£43.50 inc VAT).
  • Schools benefit from reduced entry rate of £3 per person (inc VAT) to our Monkey Business exhibition which opens on 12 February
  • We offer a bursary scheme to support eligible schools.
  • We understand that circumstances are changing very quickly in the present climate so we are temporarily waiving our cancellation fee in the event that schools need to cancel due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • We can accommodate up to two classes per visit, on the condition that they are part of the same bubble.
  • All objects are quarantined before and after each object handling session.
  • Learning Officers wash their hands upon arrival and wear disposable gloves during the sessions.
  • Learning Officers practise social distancing when teaching the whole class and wear a face covering whenever moving around the class during activities.
  • Pupils and accompanying adults will be asked to wash their hands before and after the session. We can provide gloves if required.
  • For entry into the main museum each class will be allocated a specific time slot and will be divided into smaller groups for staggered entry. A Learning Assistant will help this run as smoothly as possible.
  • A one-way system, enhanced cleaning and reduced visitor capacity are in place throughout the museum. Please note you will not have exclusive access to the galleries but overall visitor numbers will be greatly reduced.
  • “Staying COVID-19 Secure notices are displayed throughout the museum and we will contact you in the event that somebody who was in the museum at the same time as your group tests positive for Covid-19.
  • For more information please see our current risk assessment for school visits.

Look at our learning resources in advance of your visit.

You can download them or use the different images and text to create your own tailored resources.

Explore our diverse displays and exhibitions. Please bear in mind the Aquarium and Butterfly House are not accessible to groups at present.

Staying in your class or year group bubble, we can give you a dedicated space for the day where you can store bags, coats, use toilet facilities and have lunch.

If you wish to visit the galleries we can organise a time slot so that your group can safely enter without our reduced visitor capacity being exceeded. We have adapted some of our popular learning sessions and of course we follow Covid-safe practices, details of which can be found below.

Learning sessions:

Aquarium: Pond, River, Sea (EYFS)

Join Wally the Horniman Walrus for a special journey to explore aquatic habitats and the amazing animals that live in them. ‘Travel’ to an imaginary pond, river and sea and meet some of the animals that live there, from a feathery duck to a scaly caiman. Pupils will enjoy an interactive story exploring real stuffed animals (taxidermy) and their adaptations, followed by a chance to explore more taxidermy, and try on costumes of aquatic animals! 45 minutes.

Our Musical World (EYFS)

Join Wally the Horniman Walrus for a musical journey around the world! Discover how to make a talking drum ‘speak’, play a ceremonial drum for a Chinese lion dance and jingle through an Indian spice market. We start with an interactive story exploring the music and instruments of Nigeria, China and India. Children will then play a wonderful selection of world instruments and explore clothing, masks or puppets from each country. With private access to the Horniman’s fantastic Hands On Music space. 45 minutes

Chinese New Year (EYFS and KS1)

Explore, play and wear beautiful Chinese objects as we explore the traditions of Chinese New Year. Try our chopstick challenge, play traditional instruments, and hear the story of the first Lion mask. We will finish with a fantastic New Year parade! 45 minutes.

Go Outside: Garden Explorer (EYFS and KS1)

Get children up close to nature using their observation skills and senses to explore the Horniman Gardens through a range of fun, physical activities. 45 minutes Not suitable for children aged 3 and under. Summer Term.

Go Outside: Minibeasts (EYFS and KS1)

Discover the world of minibeasts in the Horniman Gardens. Find out what minibeasts are, carefully explore in the Gardens to investigate minibeast habitats, and observe minibeast features and behaviours. 45 minutes. Not suitable for children aged 3 and under. Summer Term

Arctic Adventure (Reception and KS1)

Take an exciting, imaginary trip to the Arctic to encounter some of the amazing animals that live there, and learn about traditional Inuit life. Pupils will have the opportunity to touch real Inuit objects. 45 minutes.

Aquatic Adaptations (KS1)

In this exciting hands-on session, pupils will discover how aquatic animals survive in their habitats. Discover how the bodies of freshwater animals are perfectly suited to help them survive in their habitat whilst examining an amazing selection of real Museum objects. 45 minutes. Please note there is no group access to the Aquarium at present.

Musical Instruments around the World (KS1)

Explore amazing musical instruments from around the world in this exciting hands-on workshop. Play a fantastic selection of instruments from Africa, Asia and South America, as we explore pitch, vibrations and materials. Working in groups, your class will follow a conductor to create a musical soundscape, culminating in a fantastic whole class performance! With private access to the Horniman’s fantastic Hands On Music space. 45 minutes

Around Africa (KS1)

Discover the natural and cultural diversity of the African continent. We’ll visit a busy market in Accra, a city in Ghana, learn about the people and animals of the Maasai Mara wilderness and explore African toys through play.

Toys around the World (KS1)

Play with traditional toys from around the world in this fun workshop, from storytelling dolls to pendulum toys. Together, we will explore the materials, mechanisms and history of these exciting objects.

Animals and their Habitats (KS1 and KS2)

Touch and observe some of the museum’s amazing taxidermy animals. Pupils will explore different habitats, the animals that live there and how their amazingly adapted bodies help them survive. We’ll think about some of the challenges these creatures face in our changing world and what we can do to help them.

Puppets around the World (KS1 and KS2)

Explore the world of puppets in this hands-on session. Pupils will handle a variety of string, rod and shadow puppets from the Museum’s collection. They will have the chance to explore the mechanisms and materials of these puppets and experiment with how to animate them to tell stories.

Plantastic Seeds (KS1 and KS2)

Find out all about seed dispersal in this hands-on session. From a seed larger than your head to one lighter than a feather, discover seeds that can swim, fly, explode and even hitch a lift. This session takes place indoors. Please do however take the opportunity before or after the session to take your class outside and explore our Gardens and Nature Trail. Pupils will be handling seeds and nuts in this session. If you have pupils with nut and any other allergies please let us know so we can include alternative objects.

Ancient Benin (KS2+)

An exciting opportunity to explore stunning brass replicas of ancient Benin artwork. Learn about the lost wax process, explore the symbolism and significance of the ‘Benin Bronzes’, the stories they tell, and debate their place in museums today.

Ancient Egypt (KS2+)

Explore ancient Egyptian religion and think like Egyptologists in this hands-on, exploratory session. Working as a whole class and in small groups, pupils will handle and explore ‘mystery’ ancient Egyptian objects and discover their connection to mummification and the afterlife.

Animal Classification (KS2)

Why do scientists classify animals? What similarities do all mammals have? In this session pupils will explore and handle a variety of taxidermy animals from around the world to understand how and why scientists sort animals into groups. Pupils will practice using a classification key to sort invertebrates and identify the features of mammals, fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Pupils will also be challenged to classify some mystery animals.

Fantastic Fossils (KS2)

Touch and explore real fossilised creatures from the Museum’s collection in your classroom. Pupils will work as palaeontologists to investigate fossils in small groups and share their discoveries with the rest of the class. This session explores the fossilisation process and what fossils can tell us about life on earth.

North America: First Peoples (KS2)

Compare and contrast life for first North Americans from two different geographic regions: the Pacific North West Coast and the Great Plains. Discover how the climate and resources of each region shaped life for two different tribes, the Haida (Pacific North West Coast) and Lakota (Great Plains). Handle objects from each region including a totem pole and beaded moccasins and share your findings with your classmates.

Evidence for Evolution (KS2 and KS3)

This session explores evidence for evolution by handling real fossils from the Horniman’s collection and discussing what they are and what we can learn from them. Children will compare the beaks of different birds, like Charles Darwin did, and also study some taxidermy animals and find out how they have adapted to their environment.

Go Outside: Habitat Explorer (KS2-3)

Being outdoors is good for pupils’ wellbeing and offers a wealth of learning opportunities. Let us tailor this session to your topic and the season to enable you to get the most out of the wonderful Horniman Gardens. We have a Nature Trail, a pond with dipping platform, log piles, trees and other habitats to explore. Choice between 1 hour and 90 minutes*.

Prehistoric Britain (KS2)

What was life like in Prehistoric Britain and how can we find out? Become an archaeologist, handle artefacts from the Stone and Bronze ages and work out what they tell us about prehistoric life. Hold a real mammoth tooth, put your fingers in a groove made by prehistoric hands, and learn about flint knapping.

Rainforest People and Animals (KS2+)

Immerse yourself in the rainforest habitat, learn about life in the rainforest and the people and animals that live there. Working as a whole class and in small groups, pupils will discover the importance of rainforests, the threats to their existence and consider the consequences locally and globally. There will be the opportunity to handle some of our collection of Wai Wai objects.

Sound around the World (KS2 and KS3)

Travel the world as you explore the science of sound whilst playing traditional instruments from West Africa, northern India and Trinidad in this hands-on workshop. Discover why squeezing the strings of a West African talking drum changes its pitch; learn to speak and play Indian bols on traditional drums; and consider why some Trinidadian instruments are made of unusual materials. Pupils will follow a conductor to learn and perform rhythms from each of the three world regions, culminating in a whole class performance of a Trinidadian Calypso. Please let us know the exact number of pupils in your class when you book the session.

Identity (KS3)

What makes you, you? Clothes? Hair? Beliefs? Make-up?

Explore objects from all over the world and discuss how people express their identity. Handle real Museum objects such as an initiation mask from Sierra Leone, a Native American headdress, henna patterns and a Zulu love token. Share your ideas and experiences about what makes us human.

Museum Sketchbook (KS3+)

This session is tailored to your topic or students’ interests; with over 3,000 objects in our unique Handling Collection, our Learning Officers will select a variety of artefacts for your students to sketch and photograph. From African masks and textiles to taxidermy to ancient artefacts, pupils will have a fantastic opportunity to develop their sketching skills and explore their ideas by experimenting with new textures and forms. Please bring your sketchbooks and pencils with you.

This session can support the Art Unit of the London Curriculum. The Horniman is an Arts Award Supporter and Artsmark Partner. Our Museum Sketchbook sessions can be put towards part A of your group’s Discover or Bronze award, or parts A and C of their Explore award.

Find out more about Arts Award and Artsmark.

Rhythms of the World (KS4+)

In this hands-on session pupils have the fantastic opportunity to play and learn the names, sounds and cultural context of a range of traditional world instruments: from tabla and sitar to dunduns, balafon, zither and doumbek. We start with a short talk about instruments from three regions: North India, West Africa and the Middle East/ Eastern Mediterranean. Discover how and when these instruments are used; how they create different elements of traditional music (including texture, structure and melody); and their cultural significance. Pupils then explore and play instruments from the three regions in groups.

There will be opportunity for pupils to perform in their groups at the end and they may record their work for use in composition coursework or revision (unfortunately we cannot provide equipment for this). This session (and instruments) can be tailored to suit your group’s needs. Contact us for more information.