Horniman Museums & Gardens and Evening Trip to the Shard (Sanjeewani Widyarathne, ITP 2019, Sri Lanka)

Written by Sanjeewani Widyarathne, Education Promoting Officer, Colombo National Museum (ITP 2019, Sri Lanka)

I’m Sanjeewani Widyarathne, I work as the Education Promoting Officer at Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka. I came to London to participate in the British Museum’s ITP summer programme for 2019.

July 18th 2019 was a rainy cold day. On that day I got the opportunity to visit Horniman Museums and Gardens and in the evening visited the Shard! When I arrived at the Horniman with the programme colleagues, we were warmly welcomed by Horniman staff at the Pavilion with refreshments. Thereafter Tim Corum, The Director, Curatorial & Public Engagement, welcomed us and briefed about the Horniman Museum.   

I gathered some information prior to my visit about Mr. Frederick John Horniman, because he visited Sri Lanka. Mr. Horniman was a Victorian tea trader and philanthropist, who began collecting objects, specimens and artefacts ‘illustrating natural history and the arts and handicrafts of various peoples of the world’ from around 1860. His travels took him to far flung destinations such as Egypt, Sri Lanka, Burma, China, Japan, Canada and the United States collecting objects. In 1898, Mr. Horniman decided to erect a more suitable public museum in which the collections could be adequately displayed and appreciated. The old museum was closed on 29 January 1898 and demolished in May of that year. The new museum and gardens were formally opened to the public on 29 June 1901.

After the briefing, we toured the World Gallery with Tim Corum, the Musical Instruments Gallery with Margaret Birley (Keeper) and finally Natural History Gallery with Joanne Hatton (Keeper). At the World Gallery, I have seen video presentations with sign language for deaf visitors.

Afterwards we had the choice of select specialist tours. I selected Exhibition Department and Ellie Smith (Exhibitions and Design Manager) guided us. On that day there were two temporary exhibitions. They were named, Brick Wonders and My Modal City.

These temporary exhibitions are much more relevant to my present duties. Accordingly, I observed their display methodology which was fully focused on school children, kids and families. Lots of school children, kids and families were enjoying the museum displays and activities. I had a great time there too. Then we went to see the workshop departments.

Lunch was arranged at the pavilion by the Hornimon staff. After the lunch we had a free time to visit the exhibition galleries and gardens. I really enjoyed by touring the Aquarium, Butterfly House and Animal Walk. And the Sunken Garden, Grassland Garden, Brand Stand, Sound Garden and Nature Trail were fantastic. The Horniman Museums & Gardens is giving a fantastic experience to the visitors to discover different world cultures together under one roof. 

In the evening we visited to Shard, which is the tallest building in the United Kingdom. At there you can see from two different viewing platforms.

This is an amazing experience and I enjoyed it a lot. I must thank all the team and the management of Horniman Museums & Gardens who helped us to discover this fantastic remarkable experience. And also I must thank all the programme coordinators and organisers of ITP 2019.