The famously-overstuffed walrus on display at the Horniman Museum is being taken off display soon — and you won't be able to see it again until 2026.
The beloved mascot of the Forest Hill museum sits within the Natural History Gallery, an area which is being closed in early March 2024 for refurbishment works. The walrus's popularity is largely due to its skew-whiff appearance; the Victorian taxidermists responsible for stuffing and mounting it on its arrival in the UK had never seen a real-life walrus, and weren't aware that the wrinkles were normal. So they stuffed it till the wrinkles disappeared.
The refurb is part of the Nature + Love project, a complete shake-up of the museum which aims to make it more inclusive and accessible, and improve its environmental sustainability. When the Natural History Gallery reopens, the displays will focus on human impact on the planet, and how we can all make changes on a local and personal level to minimise negative effects.
Changes will also take place in the Horniman's gardens, with a new Nature Explorers Adventure Zone and a Sustainable Gardening Zone due to be installed.
Looking at the plans for the future of the Natural History Gallery, the walrus will take up its rightful place in the centre of the room when it reopens. (And will remain overstuffed — it's not having a revamp itself.) The interior of the Gallery is listed, so we won't see much in the way of change to its structure either.
The Natural History Gallery at Horniman Museum is free to visit, and is open until 3 March 2024. The balcony overlooking the Gallery closes even earlier, from 8 January. Other parts of the museum, including the aquarium, butterfly house and temporary exhibitions, remain open throughout the works.