Brighton Museum

Thoughts on the collections and galleries

By John Roles

In all of the collections in the museum we have tried to bring in an element to explain why they're there, why they're relevant to Brighton. Most of the items you see when you walk round have been donated over the years by people connected with Brighton in some way. They either see it as a way of giving something back to the place they were born, educated, lived, retired, or in some cases it's a memorial to a member of the family in some way.

"completely entranced ...
he obviously thought it was
dramatic and wonderful"
You can experience things in the museum in very different ways. People tend to think that it's all about learning something and being terribly serious. Well, that's part of what we do but it's also about having some fun and being entertained. We have a gallery upstairs of paintings of American art works. We were working in an adjacent gallery a few months ago during half term and a young mother came through with a toddler. The toddler stopped in front of one of the paintings, great big swirls of bright colour on the wall and just stood there pointing at the painting going 'Oh oh oh' and was obviously completely entranced and she couldn't get him to go! It had had an effect on him and he obviously thought it was dramatic and wonderful!

"some of the galleries
are actually very loud and noisy...
lots of music going on,
lots of sound"
We try to make sure there are things in all of the galleries that are going to appeal to different age groups and people. We've tried to target some galleries specifically at families and young children, so we have for example got a 'Discovery Gallery' which is really hands-on. Also one of the major reasons we found why younger people don't particularly want to go to museums is because it's a place where you are supposed to be quiet. We've tried to break down some of those barriers. That's why some of the galleries are actually very loud and noisy when you go in; lots of music going on, lots of sound. Some of the galleries are very quiet and traditional. If you go and sit in the art gallery it's a very traditional space you can sit and contemplate the paintings to your hearts content, but go round the corner to the 'Performance Gallery' and it's very noisy and it's a very different experience, we hope!

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John Roles interviewed for the website on 26-05-04 by Zoƫ Woods
This page was added on 22/03/2006.

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