Speaking a month before the opening of the World Gallery, a new 600 sq m display showcasing over 3,000 objects from around the world, Merriman set out clear objectives to put the Horniman on the map as London’s flagship for a holistic approach to diversity, understanding between world cultures and environmental issues.
I’m delighted to have joined the Horniman at such a major moment in its history, as we look forward to the opening of the new World Gallery on 29 June and The Studio later in the year. In addition to two contemporary spaces, we are launching a range of new initiatives at the Horniman, underpinned by a central vision of relevance and inclusion:
Our shared world
The Horniman is unique in being London’s only museum that covers the natural world and human cultures together in one place. Now more than ever, we need to promote understanding and tolerance between cultures, and to engage people in environmental issues that are of mounting public concern, such as climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity.
The World Gallery will be an important reminder that we all share one planet, and that the things that unite us are greater than those that divide us. It will be especially pertinent in a ‘super-diverse’ city like London where more than 300 languages are spoken and over 270 different nationalities are represented.
These global challenges particularly impact on future generations, so as a venue that is especially popular with families and children, the Horniman has an important role in engaging visitors in the kind of future they want to build. With this is mind, we are revamping both our Family and Schools Learning Programmes linked to the World Gallery, while maintaining the Horniman’s position as one of London’s premier destinations for learning and discovery.
More visitors from a wider range of backgrounds
The Horniman is one of London’s most-loved institutions, but our ambition is to broaden and diversify our audiences, both in the museum and beyond its walls online.
We want the Horniman to be the most culturally democratic museum in London, building on Frederick Horniman’s founding vision to ensure people from all backgrounds feel that this is place for them. Our aim is that over the coming years the profile of our visitors reflects that of London’s overall population.
At the same time, we want to increase the Horniman’s profile, not just among London’s diverse population, but nationally and internationally, so that we that attract a million visitors a year to our amazing collections and our superb 16 acre gardens by 2023. Through the development of new spaces and community engagement programmes, we aim to create life-enhancing learning experiences for our visitors and strengthen the Horniman’s appeal to new contemporary audiences.
Over the next few months, I will be speaking to our local communities and their representatives, leaders of businesses and educational institutions, our trustees, staff and volunteers, about how we can achieve this vision over the next phase of the Horniman’s history.