Over 3,000 objects from around the world exploring the fundamental question of what it means to be human go on display this week as the Horniman’s much-anticipated World Gallery opens to the public.
The 600 sqm gallery opens following a major redevelopment of the historic South Hall to provide a bright and contemporary setting for the Horniman’s world-class anthropology collection.
A number of new acquisitions, special commissions and interactive exhibits are showcased alongside important and intriguing objects from the Horniman’s collection – including many on display for the first time in a generation.
Through vibrant and thought-provoking displays, the World Gallery showcases historic and contemporary objects from all five inhabited continents to show visitors some of the ways that people live their lives, looking at common virtues of love and compassion, trust and friendship, dignity and courage.
Visitors are invited to discover and celebrate the beauty and diversity of the world’s cultures, and to share a sense of belonging and pride in human creativity and resilience.
The World Gallery is divided into four interlinked spaces.
An introductory area welcomes visitors into the gallery, where audio-visual installations and displays explore the sentimental attachment people have to objects; Encounters has rich displays showing examples of ways of living across different times and places; Perspectives is an area that reflects on how and why we categorise, describe and understand the world; and Horniman’s Vision gives an overview of the Horniman family and the museum’s history.
The gallery space is completed with a beautiful display of kites and banners hanging from the newly renovated ceiling vault.
Collected and commissioned from Guatemala, China, London and beyond, these emblems signify our human instinct to come together in celebration, play or protest.
Drawing on the knowledge, perspectives and voices from a wide range of community groups and individuals, and in collaboration with contemporary artists, photographers, film-makers and activists, the World Gallery was developed by Horniman staff in collaboration with over 200 people from its local, national and international networks and communities.
Made possible thanks to a £3.3m National Lottery grant, the World Gallery is part of the Horniman’s mission to encourage a wider appreciation of the world, its peoples and their cultures, and its environments.
Nick Merriman, chief executive of the Horniman, said: “The World Gallery is an important reminder that we all share one planet, and that the things that unite us are greater than those that divide us.
“Promoting understanding between cultures and a sustainable world, the World Gallery could not be more timely or relevant.
“We are extremely grateful to all of our partners and funders who have made the World Gallery possible, and we look forward to welcoming visitors to this wonderful addition to the Horniman.”