Horniman Museum and Gardens - Chair

Body: Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust
Appointing Department: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Sector: Culture, Media & Sport
Location: Board meetings will normally take place at the Horniman in Forest Hill, SE23 3PQ but with video conference used when necessary.
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The role is not remunerated. Trustees receive only minimal travel and subsistence expenses for attending meetings.
Time Requirements: The Board of Trustees meets for quarterly meetings taking place in March, July, October and December. Depending on the planning cycle, the October Board meeting may also be a strategic planning meeting (Awayday).

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport wishes to appoint a Chair to the Board of Trustees of the Horniman Public Museum and Public Park Trust to succeed Eve Salomon whose term of office as Chair comes to an end in July 2022.  

DCMS is committed to eliminating discrimination and advancing equality of opportunity in its public appointments. We particularly encourage applicants from underrepresented groups, those based outside London and the South-East and applicants who have achieved success through non-traditional educational routes. This ensures that boards of public bodies benefit from a full range of diverse perspectives and are representative of the people they serve.

The Horniman Museum

The Horniman Museum and Gardens is an inspiring, surprising, family-friendly, attraction in South London’s Forest Hill.  Open since 1901, the museum is based around the founding collections of Frederick Horniman and contains internationally important collections of anthropology and musical instruments, as well as an acclaimed aquarium and natural history collection.  Located in a landmark Victorian building, adjoining the museum are beautiful 16 acre public gardens with nature trail, bandstand, butterfly house and Animal Walk. 


The Role

The Horniman has a clear vision for the future as we recover from the global pandemic and, with this in mind, is now seeking a new Trustee and specifically an individual with the capabilities to chair the Board.  Candidates will bring leadership experience gained in an organisation of similar size or status, a strong understanding of corporate governance, the ability to act as an advocate and an ambassador for the Horniman with a diverse range of stakeholders and strong communication and team working skills. DCMS nominated Trustees and the Chair are nominated and appointed by the Secretary of State and formally appointed as Directors by the Board.


Board members have responsibilities both as Trustees of the Charity and as Directors of the Company.

The main functions of the Board of Trustees of the Horniman are to:

  • Set the overall strategic aims and objectives of the Trust;
  • Act as an advocate and ambassador for the Horniman to a wide range of external stakeholders;
  • Ensure that the Horniman acts in accordance with its charitable objectives and remains true to its vision and values;
  • Oversee the development of the collections and gardens through acquisition, fieldwork and research;
  • Ensure that the collections and knowledge about them are safeguarded, both now and for the future, through effective care, management and documentation;
  • Ensure the provision of a high quality, user-friendly service, centred on the collections and gardens;
  • Ensure that an integrated interpretation of the collections and gardens is provided for the education, enjoyment and recreation of visitors and users;
  • Be responsible for the proper performance of the Trust and its stewardship of assets and public funds, and to monitor performance;
  • Support the Horniman in its efforts to secure funding for revenue and capital needs;
  • Provide an appropriate steer for the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team. 


The Board is now seeking a new Trustee and specifically a person with capabilities of chairing the Board.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

All candidates will need to demonstrate in their application the majority of the following essential criteria to a high standard:

  • An understanding of and enthusiasm for the Horniman’s work, along with a commitment to its objectives and values; 
  • Good communication skills and a proven ability to work constructively with the other Trustees and wider stakeholders;
  • The ability to act as an advocate and an ambassador for the Museum and Gardens with governments, senior policy makers, donors, sponsors, supporters and customers.
  • Ability to Chair a board, and to think and work strategically;
  • A commitment to preserving cultural heritage, and improving education and understanding of the natural environment and World cultures.
  • A strong commitment to engaging communities outside London, and factoring nation-wide perspectives into all decision making.


Desirable Criteria

  • An understanding of the wider public environment in which the Horniman operates;
  • An understanding of the importance of widening access to people of all backgrounds; 
  • An understanding of the need to build self-generated income and a willingness and ability to support fundraising initiatives. 
  • Access to networks which will facilitate fundraising


Time Commitment

The Board of Trustees meets for quarterly meetings taking place in March, July, October and December. Depending on the planning cycle, the October Board meeting may also be a strategic planning meeting (Awayday). 


In addition to the four regular Board meetings, the candidate would need to have sufficient time resources to: 

  • attend an induction programme at the Horniman – total time 2 days but over a period; 
  • study papers ahead of meetings; 
  • attend a number of evening or day events at the Horniman (about one per quarter); 
  • periodically meet with, and maintain the key working relationship with the Chief Executive; 
  • occasionally represent the Horniman at meetings with Ministers.


Term of Appointment

Appointments will be made for up to four years, and the appointment may be renewable, subject to the views of Ministers.

Additional Information

Background about the Horniman

The Foundation which Frederick Horniman set up in 1901 has benefited many millions of visitors.  The Trustees and management of the Horniman want to ensure that the excellent Museum and Gardens which have grown from his original gift continues to provide amazing, inspiring and enlightening encounters for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

At the heart of Frederick Horniman’s gift is the founding collections, the original building and the Gardens given to ‘the people in perpetuity’ for their ‘recreation, instruction and enjoyment’. This generous gift has grown significantly in both quality and quantity over the last 120 years.  


Our collections are nationally and internationally important, with the majority located in our Study Collections Centre in Greenwich. Our Musical Instrument collection is one of the most important in the world, and includes an outstanding complementary collection of instruments on long term loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Our Ethnographic collections are amongst the most important in the UK. These ‘Designated’ collections, combined with our spectacular Natural History specimens, our Aquarium, Butterfly House, Animal Walk and our 16.5 acres of award winning Gardens combine to create a unique opportunity to understand the world around us.


We want as many people as possible to enjoy the Museum and Gardens and had c. 908,000 visitors in 2019/20. Improved transport networks make accessing the Horniman from all parts of London and beyond ever easier.

The Horniman has been known for the depth of its community engagement and the quality of its educational work since the 1960s and continues to be at the cutting edge of developments both in formal learning and community engagement. 


The Horniman’s formal education programmes support schools at primary and secondary level with their curriculum work. Our special learning projects, adult courses and events and activities enrich the lives of many, including some of the most vulnerable in our community.  As the learning landscape continues to change, the Horniman will work with teachers and advisers to create new programmes which respond to user demand.

A detailed account of the work the Horniman does is described every year in an Annual Report published on the website at www.horniman.ac.uk.


Following the departure of Dame Janet Vitmayer as Chief Executive in April 2018 after a highly successful 20 years, and the appointment of Dr Nick Merriman as Chief Executive in 2018, Trustees have reviewed and agreed a revised mission and values, and developed a 10 year framework plan for the organisation.



The Horniman connects us all with global cultures and the natural environment, encouraging us to shape a positive future for the world we all share



We are: 


Everyone is welcome at the Horniman. We connect audiences from all backgrounds encouraging an interest in other peoples, cultures and environments – promoting empathy, respect and tolerance. 



The Horniman is a place of inspiration and learning. Our rich offer allows us to draw together in innovative and inspiring ways, issues and stories relating to people, animals and environments – encouraging us all to consider our future and have a positive impact on the world in which we live. 



We cherish Frederick Horniman’s founding gift, safeguarding and developing it for future generations and embedding a spirit of kindness and generosity through all our activity 



We deliver experiences that are full of surprise and wonder, creating encounters with beautiful things and sharing activities that are lots of fun. 



We will act sustainably, behave ethically, pursue excellence and encourage enterprise to achieve these overarching aims.

Change Objectives for the next 10 years 

The trustees have also set four principal change objectives for the next decade:

    • Diversify audiences and grow the offer for adults 
    • Deliver greater social and environmental impacts 
    • Improve the use of the collections and site 
    • Build a more sustainable business to support this

As part of this, towards the end of 2019 the Horniman developed a 10 year framework plan for its sites in Forest Hill and its Study Collection Centre in north Greenwich. This consisted of two projects, ‘Nature and Love’ which redevelops the natural history gallery and two areas of the Gardens, and the Entrance project to provide improved visitor facilities. The former is currently being fundraised for, while the latter is paused due to the downturn in visitor numbers caused by Covid-19.. 


The Reset Agenda

The Covid-19 epidemic has caused the Horniman to reflect on its role as London’s only museum where environment, ecology and human cultures can be seen side by side at a global scale. This Means that we will place the interlinked issues of climate, biodiversity and social inclusion at the centre of what we do. We are therefore embarking on a co-ordinated programme to draw together different strands of existing and new work in what we have called our Reset Agenda, which has the following priorities:

  1. Consult people and work in partnership
  2. Address the history of the Horniman business and of institutional collecting 
  3. Engage wider audiences through programming and communications
  4. Enhance our digital capabilities
  5. Diversify staff and volunteers
  6. Make the Horniman greenhouse gas neutral and more biodiverse
  7. Maximise income generation.


Governance and funding 

The Horniman is an independent charitable company limited by guarantee, incorporated in December 1989 (and registered as a charity in February 1990) and subject to the supervision of the Charity Commission.  

Unlike many museums and galleries, the Horniman owns its assets itself – both its premises and collections – holding them either in trust for the public under the terms of the original foundation of 1901 or as part of its charitable corporate assets.  

The dual nature of the Horniman is also unusual: it is not only a public museum but also a public park ‘dedicated to the recreation of the public’.


Sub committees

The Board of Trustees has established an Audit Committee to support them in their responsibilities relating to risk control and governance; including the review of the comprehensiveness, reliability and integrity of assurances required by the Board and Accounting Officer. There is also a Capital Projects Board, and a Remuneration Committee.


Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Although not a national museum, the Horniman’s core funding is largely provided by grant-in-aid from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) with revenue funding of £3,686k in 2021/22. Our priorities set by DCMS include protecting our world-class collections and front line services; maintaining free entry to the permanent collections; continuing to pursue commercial and philanthropic approaches to generating revenue; achieving efficiencies of 1% a year; taking a strategic approach to partnership working across the UK and internationally and prioritising access for disadvantaged young people and communities.


Arts Council England (ACE)

The Horniman is also an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation. Our funding allocation provides an annual grant of £964,097 up to 22/23 towards the delivery of our  programme. A new NPO funding round opens for 2023 onwards and a key priority will be to secure further ongoing support. 

The Horniman also plays its part in contributing to the development of the wider museum sector, supporting colleagues with loans and subject specialist expertise.


Self generated income

The Trust has been engaged in a long term change programme to reduce costs, to enable us to be more enterprising, and to allow us to grow and diversify our sources of income. The Trust continues to progress all these areas and has set targets for increasing income.

The commercial activities of the Horniman are overseen by its trading subsidiary Horniman Museum Enterprises (HME), with the main income streams currently being from the café, gift shop and venue hire.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens will be looking to its partners, its community and new and existing funders to help support and develop the Horniman and the wonderful assets it holds.

Horniman Chair Role Specification
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