I often hear from local people how much they value the Horniman and how important it is to the local community. This cuts both ways – our visitors, and especially our local visitors who come here time and again, are the lifeblood of the Museum.
Over the last year, Forest Hill residents have been keen supporters of our Farmers’ Market – which celebrates its first anniversary this autumn – snapping up the array of produce each Saturday from our fantastic traders, many of whom are local themselves.
Our Horniman Members scheme has also been embraced by the local community, with 40% of our current members living in the Borough of Lewisham. The benefits to members include a discount in our shop, exclusive events and offers and of course, free unlimited entry to the Aquarium and temporary exhibition (Extremes closes in November, for anyone yet to enjoy it). Our core supporters group, the Friends of the Horniman – made up of many Forest Hill residents – continues to fundraise actively on our behalf, most recently through the annual summer Art Exhibition which attracted larger crowds and more revenue than ever before.
Local people have been out in force to support recent events here at the Horniman, including our new series of Jazz Picnics on Wednesdays in July, and the Curious Tea Party, attended by more than 10,000 people over a wonderful weekend. Our new Lates programme offering adults a creative mix of art, music, dance and film has also been warmly received, attracting as many as 800 visitors to each evening event.
Not everyone in our community is able to visit and enjoy the Horniman so easily, however. A significant part of our work is to make the Museum and Gardens more accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with numerous community groups, for instance with older people affected by dementia and people with long term mental health issues.
Our recent good news – funding of £2.9m over three years from Arts Council England – recognises our popularity with a diverse audience, and will allow us to attract more visitors from the local community in south east London, as well as further afield.
I hope many of our neighbours in Forest Hill will continue to enjoy themselves at the Horniman in the months ahead. There’s plenty going on, from our Halloween and Christmas fairs to our new exhibitions, Revisiting Romania: Dress and Identity, and Kurt Jackson: River, not to mention the many educational visits we host each term by local schoolchildren and of course all of our family-friendly activities. We look forward to seeing you all soon.
To find out more about events and activities at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, or to become a Horniman Member, visit www.horniman.ac.uk