Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

Rated 1 out of 5
Price £9.50

The Brighton Museum and Art Gallery adjoins the famous Royal Pavilion and features displays of art, fashion and contemporary design.

The museum building is part of the Royal Pavilion Estate and it served as cavalry barracks although it was originally intended as a tennis court for King George IV.

What to see at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

The Brighton Museum & Art Gallery has exhibits that relate both to Brighton and Sussex’s local history and culture as well as displays on ancient Egypt and fine art.

The Images of Brighton gallery highlights Brighton’s reputation as a fun-loving city. It goes back as far as its days as a medieval fishing village and includes displays about Brighton’s development into a seaside resort, its role in the Regency era and its reinvention as a quirky and fashionable city. A large part of this gallery focuses on various subcultures (from the Mods and Rockers in the 1960s to today’s gay and lesbian Brighton) that have played a major role in shaping the city.

The new Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery uses forensic science and 3D facial reconstructions to explore the lives of people who lived in the Brighton and Hove area from the Ice Age to the Saxon era. Digital reconstructions show what people would have looked like and the accompanying displays provide details about everyday life over 1000 years ago.

There is more to this museum than local history and it even has two galleries that focus on ancient Egypt. Many of these artefacts were found by Brighton-born Egyptologist, Francis Llewellyn Griffith.

The World Stories gallery has displays showing the links between Brighton and cultures throughout the world including Africa, Myanmar, Iran, Papua New Guinea and the Canadian Arctic.

The museum’s Fashion & Style gallery focuses on different aspects of fashion and how they connect with aspects of Brighton’s culture and history. Displays in this gallery include exhibits about George IV including a pair of breeches worn by the king, who banned trousers in his court until 1815.

The Performance Gallery has displays and artefacts about performing arts. This gallery has displays relating to puppetry including a Punch and Judy booth juxtapositioned alongside water puppets from Vietnam and shadow puppets from Java and puppets from India, Mali and Myanmar.

Henry Willett was an avid collector whose collection of over 2000 ceramic objects is the focus of the Willett Gallery.

The 20th Century Art & Design gallery showcases design in the 20th century with an emphasis on the work of three artists: Eric Ravilious, Grayson Perry and Pablo Picasso. This gallery also includes displays of contemporary furniture including works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Charles Eames.

The museum’s fine art galleries display work from the museum’s fine art collection. Prints and drawings are changed every six months and the paintings gallery is updated every couple of years.

Other highlights of the museum’s permanent collections include:

  • A Kinemacolour camera from 1910. Kinemacolour was the first commercially viable colour film technique, invented in Brighton in 1906.
  • Edward Thomas Booth’s hunting outfit.
  • The Hove amber cup, considered to be one of the country’s greatest Bronze Age artefacts.
  • A display marking the centenary of women being granted the vote in the United Kingdom.

Temporary exhibitions at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Current and planned temporary exhibitions include:

ABBA: One Week in Brighton
The ABBA exhibition (until 4 August 2024) marks the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision victory at Brighton Dome on 6 April, 1974. The exhibition takes you back to the band’s visit to Brighton through photographs, film, memories and memorabilia, capturing the week that propelled them to international stardom. Brighton buzzed with Eurovision fever, adorned with flags and the contestants, including ABBA, were seen exploring the city. Despite UK judges awarding ‘nul points’, ABBA’s eye-catching outfits and winning song, Waterloo, marked their international breakthrough.

National Treasures: Rembrandt in Brighton
This exhibition (until 4 August 2024) presents Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 34, 1640 alongside photographic works by young people, expressing how they envision themselves at 34, paralleling Rembrandt’s age as depicted in his self-portrait. This innovative collection challenges traditional self-portraiture conventions, creating a dynamic dialogue between an old master and future talent.

See the Sea
The See the Sea exhibition (until 31 August 2024) explores the relationship between people and the sea. The exhibition features objects from the museum’s collection, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and maritime artefacts. It explores how the sea has been depicted in art and culture, and how it has shaped the lives of people in Brighton and Hove.

Visiting the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

The museum is in the Royal Pavilion Gardens close to the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Dome, which are both no more than a two-minute walk away. It is also close to many attractions in the city centre including The Lanes, the Old Police Cells Museum, the Brighton Fishing Museum, SEA LIFE Brighton and the Brighton Palace Pier, which are all within a 10-minute walk from the museum.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday. It costs £9 to visit the museum with discounts for children and local residents. Admission is free with a valid National Art Pass.

The museum is fully wheelchair accessible.

Free Wi-Fi wireless internet access is available throughout the museum.

There is quite a lot to see for a museum in a relatively small city and you can easily spend 2–3 hours in here.

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Gift shop

One review

  • M nichols
    1 out of 5

    Rip off

    £7.50 entrance fee .no thanks its always been free , is it the crappie council we have greedy. Scare people away hiking up everything...

    20 April 2023


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