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Ancient Benin

Learn about the culture, beliefs and achievements of this ancient African Kingdom as you handle replica artefacts made especially for the Horniman in modern day Benin City.

Uncover the stories behind brass plaques by carefully decoding the symbols and clues within them; discover how the Oba used objects to show his power; and see the stages of the incredible Lost Wax Process.

Download our Ancient Benin Learning Resource to guide you around our World Gallery and see the display of objects from Ancient Benin including: brass plaques and sculptures, carved ivory and trade goods. 

Learning Objectives:

  • All pupils will be able to locate Ancient Benin on a map of modern day Africa.
  • All pupils will understand who the Oba is and his role in the Ancient Kingdom of Benin.
  • Pupils will understand the stages of the lost wax process.
  • Pupils will be able to ‘read’ brass plaques by interpreting their symbols and clues.

“SO, SO MUCH! They learned about the way of life, religious beliefs, trades, stories they passed on, rulers..” Year 6 teacher

Workshop information

How to book

Booking a taught session includes a welcome briefing on arrival, timed access to a lunch space, cloakroom facilities and access to toilets for the exclusive use of school groups.

Contact us to make a booking:
020 8291 8686

When you contact us please have ready:

– the name of the taught session you would like to book or topic you are studying,

-1st/2nd/3rd choice of date and preferred session time,

– the number of pupils and adults attending.


Entrance to the Horniman Museum and Gardens is free of charge. Taught sessions and access to some exhibitions are charged for. We invoice after your visit.

The following charges apply:
– 45 minute object handling, Museum and Gardens sessions (up to 30 pupils): £72.50 ex VAT (£87.00 inc VAT) per session
– 30/45 minute object handling sessions for Special Education Needs classes (up to 12 pupils): £36.25 ex VAT (£43.50 inc VAT) per session
– 60 minute Gamelan and 90 minute sessions (up to 30 pupils): £122.50 ex VAT (£147.00 inc VAT) per session.

We offer a bursary.

Planning your visit

See Plan Your Day for other essential information including our Risk Assessment.

We are open from 10am–5.30pm. Entrance to the Museum and Gardens is free of charge.

Entrance to the Aquarium, Butterfly House and our temporary exhibition Permian Monsters (opens until 1 November 2020) is charged with reduced rates available for school, college, university and nursery groups.

Charges apply to all children aged 3 years and over, and all accompanying teachers and adults, unless they are specific 1:1 carers.