Gill decided to take a turn at taking me someplace we’ve never been as a surprise. We ended up going near Lewisham to a place called Forest Hill where they have the kind of museum I really love.
See, I love the British Museum, as well as the Science Museum and the Natural History museum. I love their counterparts back in Canada, too. But the one problem I’ve always had with them is just how… organized they are. I mean all museums are organized, but many modern museums are so focused and “neat” and planned out that they feel a bit unreal, if that makes any sense.
What I miss is the “house of curiosities” feel that was at the heart of the origin of museums, and that is where the Horniman Museum derives from. Frederick John Horniman was a Victorian tea trader and this place started off as one man’s collection that was eventually opened to the public. It grew so big his family had to move out of the house, and later he had a “proper” museum built on the site. It also has 16 acres of gardens behind it.
This isn’t the world’s biggest museum, it’s not all that big (but big enough). But what it is is a wonderful mishmash of everything. The kind of museum I’d have loved to have visited as a kid. Not only does it have a traditional museum/curiosities section from around the world, it has one room that is just about musical instruments, one that demonstrates animal biology by using robots to demonstrate concepts (such as how the neck on a Giraffe works), a natural history section, a small outdoor farm (chickens, goats, rabbits, presumably a petting zoo for school kids) and an aquarium…
Unfortunately I only had my crappy phone to take pictures with. Gill should have warned me to bring it, but we plan to go back again. There were a couple of exhibitions we didn’t get a chance to check out, nor did we visit the aquarium or go on the nature trail behind the gardens.