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Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Founded: 1856        Governance: Local Authority      Scope: Art, applied art, Archaeology, ethnography, local history    Visited: Spring 2019

Amazingly, Brighton museums (and the Pavilion) are still owned and managed by the Council - but then Brighton is an exceptional place in various ways. The Museum is part of the Pavilion complex and could almost be a mosque of old Al-Andalus. Inside it's just as striking: gorgeous encaustic tiles accompany you up a staircase at the rear of the grand central atrium, and on the upper floor Moorish arches open into vistas of distant galleries.

The displays are very eclectic and there is no coherent story, rather a collection of glittering fragments, but everything is sort-of there, from fishing boats to Prinny and his Regency pretensions, Mods and Rockers on 1960s beaches to a moving examination of contemporary trans identity. There are strong archaeology galleries, and rooms of global cultural artefacts put into human context rather well with lots of opinion from the people they belong to culturally. Like almost every museum which has a significant Ancient Egyptian collection, it seems, Brighton displays its in a sepulchral looping walkway of subdued light and eerie backlit cases. 

However I thought the crowning glory of the museum is that great central atrium, devoted to a ravishing collection of twentieth-century decorative art. It's a charismatic space, spectacularly rendered with some of the most sumptuous kit I've ever seen in a single museum gallery.

Brighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art GalleryBrighton Museum & Art Gallery
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