STO takes a look at some of the educational workshops available at the Horniman Museum.

At the Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, south London, welcomes 46,000 pupils each year, from schools across London, Kent and further afield.

There are 40 different taught sessions on offer, which are linked to the National Curriculum and based on the Horniman’s extensive collections of natural history, musical instruments, anthropology, and living plants and animals.

History, Art & Design, Citizenship, PSHE, Geography and Science are some of the subjects that can be focussed on at the Horniman Museum, for Key Stages 1 to 5.

As well as a museum space to learn in, the Horniman offers schools the use of its handling collection, housed in a dedicated gallery. School groups can not only look at, but also touch, smell and listen to 3,500 real museum objects, from an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus to a shark’s jaw. Some of these objects are used to support the educational workshops, too.

Here are some examples of the learning sessions available…

Around Africa
Key Stages 1 and 2
Subject links:

This 45-minute session explores a range of objects from many places in Africa. Pupils can handle instruments, toys, masks, clothing and everyday objects from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. They’ll also look at the natural and recycled materials used, listen to stories and learn about African traditions and beliefs.

Natural history displays in the museum. (Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens).

Pictured: Natural history displays in the museum. (Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens).

Bones and Teeth
Key Stage 2
Subject links:

In this session, pupils will answer questions such as why do animals have skeletons? and what are the different types of teeth for? They’ll handle a range of real animal skulls such as tiger, dolphin and crocodile and study their teeth to identify carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. Children will then compare these to human teeth and learn about different tooth types.

Exploring India: Celebration and Belief
Key Stages 1 and 2
Subject links:
Geography, Music, PHSE

This session looks at different objects from the Horniman’s Indian collections. The class will celebrate Diwali with shadow puppets, listen to traditional stories and find out about musical instruments from India. By the end of this workshop, pupils will be able to locate India on a map, as well as understand that there are different religions in India, including Hinduism.

Fashion and Identity
Key Stages 3, 4 and 5
Subject links:
Art & Design, Design & Technology, Citizenship, PSHE, Geography

Pupils will explore identity, representation and cultural ideals of fashion and beauty through discussing and handling a range of objects related to temporary and more permanent body adornment including textiles, masks, shoes and jewellery. The group will learn that body adornment and fashion is a universal, cross-cultural practice, and have the chance to appreciate that body adornment and fashion are used as expressions of identity.

School girls at the Horniman Museum. Photo credit:Megan Taylor).

Pictured: School girls at the Horniman Museum. (Photo credit: Megan Taylor).

Prehistoric Britain
Key Stage 2
Subject links:
Science, History

During this session children will learn what life was like in Prehistoric Britain. The group will become archaeologists, explore artefacts from the Stone and Bronze ages and work out what they tell us about prehistoric life. By the end of this session, participants will be able to place the Stone Age (Mesolithic & Neolithic) and Bronze Age in correct chronological order.

Garden Explorer
Key Stage 1
Subject links:

Lasting between 30 and 45 minutes, and available on Mondays and Tuesdays in the summer term, Garden Explorer takes place in the Horniman gardens. Children can get close to nature using their observation skills and senses, and explore the outdoor spaces through a range of physical activities. The class will search for natural treasures, look more closely at trees, and go on a search for some hidden minibeasts.

Museum Sketchbook
Key Stages 3, 4 and 5
Subject links:
Art & Design

During this workshop, pupils will be able to develop creative ideas and carry out sketchbook work within the museum. The group will get to explore and discuss natural history specimens and world cultural objects, including masks, skulls, textiles and taxidermy animals. Sessions can be tailored to suit a particular topic within the Art curriculum.

Horniman Museum Natural  History credit Horniman Museum and Gardens

Pictured: Learning at the Horniman Museum. (Photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens).

Booking a school visit

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. 

All taught sessions run at 10.30am-11.15am, 11.45am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-2.15pm.

To make a booking, teachers can call 020-8291 8686 or e-mail

For more information visit

(Lead image photo credit: Horniman Museum and Gardens).