The Willett Gallery is dedicated to displaying the discoveries of a man who helped found Brighton Museum.

Henry Willett spent his life collecting, and his interests included fossils, natural history specimens and paintings. This gallery is focused on his popular pottery collection, which includes novelty ornaments, jugs, cups, figurines, busts, and commemorative ware.

Born into a wealthy brewing family, Willett collected over 2000 ceramic items dating mainly from the Georgian and Victorian periods. He loaned some of the collection to the new Brighton Museum in 1873 and a much larger collection was finally presented as a gift to the town in 1903.

These fascinating items are examples of the type of pottery used by ordinary people of the time and offer an amazing insight into topics which were the talking points of the nation.

Willett Gallery
Willett Gallery

Themes

Henry Willett organised his pottery collection into social themes which are reflected in the gallery. These themes include:

  • Royalty
  • Naval and Military heroes
  • Sport
  • Crime
  • Music
  • Domestic life

Part of the Willett Collection.

Many of the ornaments which were once displayed in homes across the country are cheeky and political, while others are patriotic and commemorative.

The gallery also includes a showcase of examples of Mr Willett’s other collections, including natural history specimens. Others items from his collection can be found at the Booth Museum.

Small temporary displays are also held in this gallery, inspired by the popular pottery collection and its themes. A digital interactive provides a light-hearted quiz and information about the whole of the Willett Collection.

Where is it?

The Willett gallery is located on the ground floor of Brighton Museum. After you have entered from the foyer the Willett gallery is the first door to the right.

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