The World Gallery is now open

Over 3,000 objects from around the world exploring the fundamental question of what it means to be human are now on display as our much-anticipated World Gallery opens to the public.

The 600 sq m gallery opens following a major redevelopment of the historic South Hall to provide a bright and contemporary setting for our world-class anthropology collection.

A number of new acquisitions, special commissions and interactive exhibits are showcased alongside important and intriguing objects from the Horniman’s collection – including many on display for the first time in a generation.

Through vibrant and thought-provoking displays, the World Gallery showcases historic and contemporary objects from all five inhabited continents to show visitors some of the ways that people live their lives, looking at common virtues of love and compassion, trust and friendship, dignity and courage.

Visitors are invited to discover and celebrate the beauty and diversity of the world’s cultures, and to share a sense of belonging and pride in human creativity and resilience.

The World Gallery is divided into four interlinked spaces. An Introductory area welcomes visitors into the gallery, where audio-visual installations and displays explore the sentimental attachment people have to objects; Encounters has rich displays showing examples of ways of living across different times and places; Perspectives is an area that reflects on how and why we categorise, describe and understand the world; and Horniman’s Vision gives an overview of the Horniman family and the Museum’s history.

The gallery space is completed with a beautiful display of kites and banners hanging from the newly renovated ceiling vault. Collected and commissioned from Guatemala, China, London and beyond, these emblems signify our human instinct to come together in celebration, play or protest.

Highlights include kites by Ahmadzia Bakhtyari, a London-based kite-maker from Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, and a banner created by South East London artist Ed Hall with Horniman volunteers, inspired by the long tradition of Trade Union banners.

Launching on the anniversary of the current Museum building opening to the public on 29 June 1901, the World Gallery will continue Frederick Horniman’s ambition ‘to bring the world to Forest Hill’.

Drawing on the knowledge, perspectives and voices from a wide range of community groups and individuals, and in collaboration with contemporary artists, photographers, film-makers and activists, the World Gallery was developed by Horniman staff in collaboration with over 200 people from its local, national and international networks and communities.

This project was made possible thanks to a £3.3m National Lottery grant, the World Gallery is part of the Horniman’s mission to encourage a wider appreciation of the world, its peoples and their cultures, and its environments.

The World Gallery is an important reminder that we all share one planet, and that the things that unite us are greater than those that divide us. Promoting understanding between cultures and a sustainable world, the World Gallery could not be more timely or relevant. We are extremely grateful to all of our partners and funders who have made the World Gallery possible, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to this wonderful addition to the Horniman.
Nick Merriman, Chief Executive of the Horniman
The opening of the World Gallery is a major milestone in the Horniman’s history that will once again place Anthropology at the centre of the Museum. It has been a pleasure to help curate the World Gallery with so many inspirational people. We hope that our visitors will explore some of the many different ways that people can understand and describe the world we all share, and draw inspiration from examples of humanity’s resilience, creativity and compassion.
Robert Storrie, Keeper of Anthropology
The new World Gallery at London’s Horniman Museum illustrates how people from different countries and cultures have lived, worked and prospered together from ancient civilisations to the present day. London is a melting pot of diversity, where we don’t just tolerate difference, we celebrate it. Our city couldn’t be a more natural home for the new World Gallery.
Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries
The Horniman’s new World Gallery is an inspiring and diverse celebration of human creativity. Every one of the 3000 items tells a story, and through cutting-edge technology and innovative displays, will be made more accessible to visitors now and into the future.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport