Hair Stories Trail

Explore this interesting collection of hair stories from around the Horniman

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Hair is an incredible fibre with lots of qualities that make it a useful material in all sorts of ways. 

Follow our trail to see an interesting compilation of hair stories from around the Horniman's collections!

Horniman Family Photo (1875) by John FergusHorniman Museum and Gardens

Horniman Family Photo - Horniman's Vision Display

Emslie Horniman married Laura Plomer in 1886. Laura’s family disapproved of her relationship with Emslie, deeming the Horniman’s social status as inadequate. 

Laura cut off her hair, sold it to a wigmaker in Mayfair, and bought stamps so she could continue writing to Emslie.

Buhai, Friction Drum (1982) by Horniman Museum & GardensHorniman Museum and Gardens

Buhai, Friction Drum - Music Gallery

The buhai is traditionally played at New Year’s celebrations in Romania. A hank of horse hair is attached to the centre of the membrane (rabbit skin). The drum is played by wet hands being pulled alternately along the strange of horse hair. Buhai means bull. 

Hair Tubes (0) by Horniman Museum & GardensHorniman Museum and Gardens

Hair Tube - World Gallery

Hair tubes are worn by men and boys in Waiwai culture to draw attention to their hair. Strong, beautiful hair is considered masculine and so highlighting it is important. The real bird feathers signal the importance of birds. 

Grasslands Gardens - Orange Plants (2019) by Horniman Museum & GardensHorniman Museum and Gardens

Compost - Gardens

Hair is great for compost and for plants. You can see our compost heap in the Grasslands Garden, but all of the plants and flowers in the Gardens are grown using it. Hair contains a lot of nitrogen, and helps compost to retain rainwater.

Alpacas - Eva and Poppy (2021) by Connie ChurcherHorniman Museum and Gardens

Alpaca Hair - Animal Walk

Huacaya alpacas – like Eva and Poppy in the Animal Walk – have fur that is woolly, dense and soft. Alpaca fleece is shorn in the spring. It’s hypoallergenic, water repellent, wind resistant, breathable and insulating. This makes it really good material for clothes and knitting. 

Domestic Dog (Canis lupus familiaris) (1850/1928) by Edward Gerrard & SonsHorniman Museum and Gardens

Dog Hair - Natural History Gallery

Did you know that only mammals have true hair? Mammals use their hair in a huge variety of ways. For dogs, their top coat of hair protects them from dirt and repels water, whilst their undercoat keeps them warm.
See the dog heads in the Natural History Gallery!

Hair Untold Stories Exhibition - Blond Hair Dress (2021) by Connie ChurcherHorniman Museum and Gardens

Hair is so much more than something which grows on our heads - it is a material, a tool and even an instrument. 

Explore more Hair stories at the Horniman
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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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