Case Study:

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill, South London appointed Direct Access as the Access Consultants for the £8.9m Nature + Love redevelopment. Spanning two galleries and three garden spaces, the four-year project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Trust, will be completed in 2026.

Commissioned in 1898 and opened in 1901, the museum has extensive displays of anthropology, natural history, and musical instruments with over 350,000 objects in its collection. The re-invigorated and re-interpreted outdoor and indoor spaces will enable the museum to showcase and celebrate the natural world. The Horniman Museum is in a unique position as London’s only museum of global nature and culture to raise awareness of urgent issues of climate change.

Close up of the Walrus exhibit at the Horniman Museum

Direct Access will over the next four years advise Horniman through the transformation project on all aspects of accessibility from the physical structure to curation and programming. This will include a redisplayed Natural History Gallery and an outdoor sustainable gardening zone.

“We are delighted to be working with Horniman on these ambitious plans,” said Director Steven Mifsud MBE. “We have seen with the Covid pandemic the importance of urban parks in enabling people to enjoy and connect with nature. There is a great opportunity here for engaging a new range of audiences, local and national with the opportunities this redevelopment will present”.

Direct Access founder Steven Mifsud MBE smiles for a medium shot photo outside the Horniman Museum and Gardens

Direct Access will kickstart the programme with an initial Access Audit of the Museum as it stands today. This will inform the development of strategic approaches with Architects to address the unexplored and unused areas of the gardens to create more accessible opportunities.

“We are excited to see the new Kindercafé planned for the old model boating pond that will link the historic woods around the site. Young people will get to experience local wildlife including stag beetles, hedgehogs, and bats.”

“The planned Sustainable Gardening Zone will link to a new accessible plant nursery with interactive outdoor engagement spaces that enable visitors to consider what would work within their homes and gardens from sustainable water use to how to choose the right plants.”

Horniman Museum interior featuring exhibits with multi-coloured lighting across the room

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