Masks Around the World

Learn about the design, uses and cultural significance of masks as you try on a wonderful selection of masks from around the world in this hands-on session.

Discover the amazing stories told by masks: from the Mexican ‘Dance of the Old Men’ to the Indonesian tale of good and evil with Barong and Rangda. Explore how masks are constructed with their use in mind, from dancing to welding, and why the choice of material is so important. Discover some of the occasions that masks are worn for along with their cultural significance, and transform yourself by trying some of them on!

This session can be tailored to your topic; do let us know if you are learning about masks from a particular region, or are interested in a particular element of their construction (such as mechanisms or materials). Pupils can also bring their sketchbooks for the opportunity to sketch our fantastic mask collection – just let us know when you make your booking.

The Horniman’s fantastic World Gallery is the perfect place to explore your topic further; on display are a stunning array of masks from around the world, ranging from Oceania to North America. Use our ‘Masks’ Learning Resource to guide your group.

Learning Objectives:

  • Pupils will understand the different cultural uses and significances of masks.
  • Pupils will appreciate a range of design features and styles of masks.
  • Pupils will appreciate mask characterisation and understand how it is portrayed

‘From this session…they understood the origins and significance of masks and the cultures relating to them.  The handling of the masks gave way to the tactile sensation of the masks used and the effect of wearing a mask.’ Teacher

Please note that our Natural History Gallery is now closed as part of a major 2 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 (including our Music and World Galleries). 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.