Royal Pavilion & Museums wins over £90,000 for ‘Film Pioneers’ project

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The Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, have secured £92,505 of funding from the John Ellerman Foundation Regional Museums and Galleries Fund for a major project focusing on the museums’ nationally important film and media collections.

Kinemacolor 35mm cinecamera, 1910
Kinemacolor 35mm cinecamera, 1910

This historic collection tells the fascinating story about a group of innovators at the birth of film-making and cinema in Brighton & Hove in the 1890s and early 1900s. The famous ‘Brighton School’ of filmmakers, and its major figures George Albert Smith and James Williamson, were among the world’s first movie pioneers. Their work is embodied by the cine-cameras, photographs, catalogues and archives held by the Royal Pavilion & Museums.

The ‘Film Pioneers’ project is inspired by the potential of this exceptional historic film and media collection to engage and inspire many different people from all walks of life. The funding from the John Ellerman Foundation will enable the curatorial team to develop the skills, knowledge and capacity that are key in raising the profile of this important collection and improving public access to it. A highlight of the project will be a new display in the Spotlight Gallery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery opening summer 2016.

Janita Bagshawe, Director of the Royal Pavilion & Museums, said:
‘We are thrilled to be the recipient of this major award as the ‘Film Pioneers’ project represents an important initiative and ambition for us. It will enable our curators to bring this pioneering story to a much wider audience, and to share their learning with colleagues across the museum sector. I am confident that the museum, our staff, the collection and anyone interested in the history of film will gain hugely as a result.’

Working collaboratively both within and beyond the organisation is central to the project, with external partners including the BFI funded Film Hub SE and Screen Archive SE.

Dr Frank Gray, Director of Screen Archive SE, said:
‘The curatorial development of this collection should lead to enabling visitors (physically and virtually) to discover, explore, interact and learn about this rich and fascinating history of photographic and screen media from the early 19th century to the present, discover how it intersects with the City’s social and cultural development as a centre of leisure and the creative industries and serve as a catalyst for new media production and scholarship in the City today.’

‘Film Pioneers’ builds on previous work exploring and highlighting this important collection. In 2010 a temporary exhibition at Brighton Museum, Capturing Colour: Film, Invention & Wonder explored the emergence of colour in moving images from the 1890s to the digital age. In 2012-13 an exhibition exploring the work of avant-garde, Brighton-based filmmaker Jeff Keen was displayed in the museum’s fine art galleries. More recently the Royal Pavilion & Museums worked collaboratively with the Contemporary Art Society, the Whitechapel Gallery and independent curator Gaia Tedone on a project inspired by the collection resulting in a contemporary art exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery and Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne.


Notes for Editors
The John Ellerman Foundation is an independent grantmaking foundation supporting charities that make a practical difference to people, society and the natural world. For more information go to

Screen Archive South East is a public sector moving image archive serving the South East of England. The archive’s collections of magic lantern slides, films, video, and associated materials capture the many varied aspects of life, work and creativity from the early days of screen history to the present day and serve as a rich and invaluable historical resource. For more information go to

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