Success for funding to provide museums for all


Brighton & Hove’s Royal Pavilion & Museums (RPM) has successfully bid for nearly £2.8 million over four years (£689,507a year) from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio.

The conditional offer* means that RPM will be able to extend its work to bring collections from across the city closer to communities, through digital and schools activities to exhibitions, events and outreach.

Funding will be used to spotlight the lesser known museums, with a new ‘evolution gallery’ at the Booth Museum planned to feature a specially commissioned replica of an ‘Iguanodon Mantellisaurus’ (a type of dinosaur) and the story of its local discoverer Gideon Mantell. From birds to butterflies, flora to fossils, the Booth’s Designated collection will evolve into an interactive science centre, to share the story of what it is to be human in the natural world.

The Booth will also build on its popular events programme to attract new audiences; it has hosted award-winning life drawing classes, promenade theatre, sell-out pub quizzes, acoustic gigs and taxidermy demonstrations that have shown the venue and collections in a new light.

Hove Museum’s profile will be developed as a ‘museum of making,’ encouraging and inspiring a wide audience to experience the Craft and Film & Media collections. Programming, exhibitions and activities will explore the processes and the people behind objects in the museum with a ‘Maker in Residence’ from the University of Brighton sharing the collections with visitors. 

Collaboration with local film organisations such as the Brighton Youth Film Festival, Cine-City and Film Archive South East will explore new ways of using the spaces and collections at Hove Museum.

At Preston Manor, the emphasis will be on providing greater access to parts of this historic building, and revitalising the kitchen gardens. Improvements to the visitor experience will build a better understanding of the house, collections and those who lived and worked there.

On the Royal Pavilion Estate a series of exhibitions and displays will mark key milestones over the next four years such as the 200th anniversary of the Royal Pavilion’s creator, George IV’s, ascension to the throne, and the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings.

The restoration of the Royal Pavilion’s Saloon will be completed in 2018 and the funding will enable an accompanying display to showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ work of  a range of specialists involved, including carpet makers, silk weavers, upholsterers, decorative artists and historians.

The Arts Council has previously recognised RPM’s sector expertise in the use of digital programming and technology to engage audiences. During  2018-22 a digital publishing programme will promote exhibitions, events, and the unexpected stories behind the collections. RPM aims to reach a million sessions per year across their various websites by the end of the four year period.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the city’s tourism, development and culture committee, said: “With intense competition for all aspects of public funding, this is fantastic news for the city’s culture. It means Royal Pavilion & Museums can continue their work involving people of all ages in our unique and nationally important collections.

“This is an exciting time for our museums, with more opportunities for residents to get involved. It is really important for us to make the collections accessible to everyone and for all our residents to experience the rich cultural heritage of Brighton and Hove.”

Community participation drives much of the RPM’s work and there will be further opportunities for local people to take an active role in how the museums develop their collections and the understanding of them.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “We’re pleased to continue our support for Royal Pavilion & Museums’ work through the 2018-22 National Portfolio. It has a great track record of exciting exhibitions and displays that showcase its wide-ranging collections and we look forward to seeing them continue this important work.

"This is an exceptionally strong portfolio of organisations delivering great arts and cultural experiences to audiences throughout the East and South East of England. It will reach into more places than ever before, providing more people of all ages and backgrounds with the opportunity to participate in the arts – inspiring them as artists, as audiences, or as a mix of both.”

A further four years of Arts Council England funding has also been secured for the South East Museum Development Programme of which the RPM has been a lead partner since 2012.

The consortium includes Oxford County Museums Service and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust and focusses on raising ambition, driving excellence and building resilience across a diverse sector. Brighton & Hove provides expert advice and support to some of the UK’s leading visitor attractions as well as tiny, volunteer run, local museums.

Arts Council England has reconfirmed their commitment to the work by announcing investment in the consortium as a ‘Sector Support Organisation’ in its National Portfolio so that it can:

  • Continue providing highly valued Museum Development Officers as primary contacts and trusted advisers for every museum in the region.
  • Support museums to achieve the national Museum Accreditation standard.
  • Deliver specialist support on the care and conservation of collections.
  • Help museums to give better visitor experiences and generate revenue from more diverse sources, through grants, training and mentoring.
  • Enable museums to work together and learn from each other.

Brighton & Hove City Council currently manages RPM, which includes the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Hove Museum, Booth Museum and Preston Manor. Plans are in place for the management to move to a cultural trust for which a shadow board has just been appointed. More details here.

Glynn Jones, chair of the shadow board of RPM Trustees, said: “This vitally important funding from Arts Council England’s National Portfolio will help ensure that the work Royal Pavilion and Museums does to support the city's economy, the education of its children and young people, and also the wellbeing of its residents and our many visitors, flourishes and grows.

“Our joint goals of striving for excellence in arts, museums and libraries will help us ensure that every child and young person in the city has the opportunity to experience the enormous richness our museums, arts and our libraries have to offer".


*Offer conditional on agreed business case