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On June 7th, 2017

Brighton Museum

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Museum | Things to do

Brighton Museum

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is located in the Royal Pavilion garden, at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter. Its diverse collections bring together the arts and history to tell stories about the city and the world we live in.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery began life in a few rooms on the upper floor of the Royal Pavilion.

The museum was opened on 5 November 1861 by Richard Owen, the founder of the Natural History Museum. Its first displays consisted of natural history specimens, the town’s art collection, and various items collected from around the world by local residents. The early museum soon outgrew the Pavilion and the town authorities made ambitious plans to create a larger and more professional museum.

Brighton Museum old photo

In 1873 Brighton Museum moved to its present site, along with the town’s public library. Although it occupies land that was formerly used as part of George IV’s stable complex, the building was built especially for the museum — indeed, it was one of the first purpose built museums in England.

In 1873 Brighton Museum moved to its present site, along with the town’s public library. Although it occupies land that was formerly used as part of George IV’s stable complex, the building was built especially for the museum — indeed, it was one of the first purpose built museums in England.

One of its founders was Henry Willett, who lent – and later donated – his collection of Popular Pottery to the museum, where it can still be seen. Willett had made his fortune in brewing, and was not only an avid collector, but a passionate supporter of museums. Willett’s example of generosity and participation has been followed with donations and legacies from many local residents over the years.

A key figure in the museum’s development was Henry Roberts, director of both Brighton’s museum and library. Under his leadership, Brighton Museum developed an international outlook, and curated exhibitions of art from many countries across Europe. His greatest success was a 1910 exhibition of French Art that featured works by Monet, Cezanne, Degas, Matisse, Gaugin and other leading artists.

 

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