You have just a couple of months to pay a visit to the Horniman’s famously poorly preserved walrus before it becomes unvisitable for a few years. Like many museums, the Horniman Museum, in south London has a mascot, in this case, an ironic one, in the form of a stuffed walrus that’s been particularly badly stuffed.
Scientifically, it’s quite a poor specimen, as the person who stuffed it hadn’t seen such a creature before, so it lacks many of the details that a live animal has, such as folds in the skin. But it is held in great affection despite – or maybe because – of its imperfections and being such a damn big thing dominating the room.
The walrus sits in pride of place in the museum’s Natural History Gallery, but the gallery will close for refurbishment in March 2024 as part of a wider redevelopment of the museum to make it more accessible to visitors.
The gallery closes on Sunday 3rd March 2024 — so you have just a couple of months to pay a visit.
You don’t need to book tickets for the main museum, which is free to visit, although they recommend purchasing tickets in advance if you want to visit the Aquarium or Butterfly House.
Apart from the walrus, winter is also a good time to visit, as the museum is at the top of a hill with very good views across to central London, which are slightly better in winter because the trees aren’t in the way.
The museum is a short walk from Forest Hill station, served by London Overground and Southern trains. It’s open daily from 10am – 5.30pm, and will be closed 24th-26th December for Christmas, but will be open on New Year’s Day.
Yes, the walrus will return in 2026.