Photography allowed

Mickey mouse puppet in Brighton Toy and Model Museum

I like a museum stuffed to the gunnels. Independent museums are often displayed that way. None of your curated cases with 3 things placed just so.

The Brighton Toy and Model Museum is tucked directly underneath the train station in a small claustrophobic space that is, indeed, packed to the gunnels. No visible space left. Meccano boxes double-stacked, Steiff animals sat on one another’s laps, Pelham puppets vying for stage space. And even more display cases snuck in tightly underneath these, leaving hardly room for labels.

When I visited the museum there where a lot of men looking at trains. And there were a lot of model trains in the small space to look at. Some of them needed 10p before they would do anything. Alongside, underneath and probably behind the trains, lots of toy cars were piled into cases. And closing the space down even more, model airplanes flew low overhead.

I like other toys; toys with faces and toys that are small versions of bigger things. I like taking photographs of them. It keeps me quiet for hours. So I was in my element with all the dolls, puppets and lead toys. Some were fallen, some dusty, all rather melancholic, faded – like the museum itself.

But me, I like a crowded messy display case, musty if at all possible. I like the challenge of pulling out a detail to make a photograph. I have got pretty darn good at getting the glass out of the picture, as it were. And letting the surreal visual of a thing I have noticed come through.


Ralph Mills

Wonderful! Exactly my kind of museum. I’m busily planning a return visit to The Land of Lost Content in Craven Arms which is very much a crammed-in museum, no labels, lovely fierce curator who will let you take photos if you ask nicely and explain why (research in my case). Now I have to go to Brighton, not only for this, but for the rather more ormally-curated Staffordhire miniatures in Brighton Museum. I know which will be most fun though!

shelf appeal

Darn it, I popped in to Brighton Museum too but missed these miniatures, they sound right up my museum street.


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