Kingdom of Benin

Learn about the culture, beliefs and achievements of the African Kingdom of Benin, as pupils handle incredible artworks made by brass casters in modern day Benin City, commissioned by the Horniman.

Uncover the stories told in modern brass plaques by exploring the symbols and images within them; discover how the Oba used objects to show his power; and see the stages of the incredible Lost Wax Process.

Hear and discuss the modern history of the artefacts displayed in our Museum; looted in 1897 from Benin City. These objects were purchased by Frederick Horniman, and held in the Museum’s collection for over 120 years. Ownership of these objects was returned to the Nigerian government in November 2022, and we will discuss the significance of this together.

Six of the looted objects were returned to Nigeria in November 2022. The remaining objects are now on loan to the Horniman, and remain on display in the World Gallery.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Pupils understand the role of the Oba in the past and present Kingdom of Benin
  • Pupils can locate Benin City in Nigeria
  • Pupils understand the stages of the lost wax process and the significance of this amazing technology
  • Pupils understand that the African continent was colonised by European nations, and that this significantly impacted the map of modern day Africa
  • Pupils begin to form opinions about the future of colonial era objects held in Museums

Download our Kingdom of Benin Learning Resource to guide you around our World Gallery and to see the display of objects from Ancient Benin that include brass plaques and sculptures, carved ivory and trade goods. For now, these objects will continue to be displayed whilst conversations continue with Nigeria’s National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) about their future.

Please note that our Natural History Gallery is now closed as part of a major two year redevelopment, Nature + Love. The rest of our Galleries, displays and Gardens will be open as usual, with plenty across the site to support your topic (from our free Animal Walk, to our World Gallery). Our schools workshops are unaffected.

We will be opening a new, free temporary exhibition about the natural world, animals and their habitats, in September 2024.


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:

Mainstream State schools: £90 including VAT, £75 excluding VAT

Private/independent schools: £129.60 including VAT, £108 excluding VAT

SEND schools and groups: £45 including VAT, £37.25 excluding VAT

We offer a bursary scheme for schools that meet a set criteria.

Planning your visit

See the School Trips page for other essential information including our risk assessment.

We are open from 10am-5.30pm, 7 days a week. Entrance to the Museum and Gardens is free of charge but must be booked in advance by emailing

We offer reduced educational rates for our Aquarium, Butterfly House, and Temporary exhibition. See the School Trips page for further information.

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