British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access


In 1997 Hove Museum & Art Gallery purchased the portion of the Barnes Collection relating to the South East. This collection reflects the important role the region played in the birth of the film industry. Local film pioneers George Albert Smith, James Williamson, William Friese-Greene, Esme Collings, Alfred Darling and Charles Urban were individually responsible for technical, artistic and commercial practices which underpin today’s film industry. Editing and colour image reproduction were developed locally and the results were marketed all over Europe and America. The Collection is made up of early apparatus, photographs, programmes, rare publications and other ephemera relating to these pioneers. John and William Barnes began collecting in the 1930s, long before the interest in film history was reflected in universities, museums and heritage centres. They established their own museum in St Ives which became renowned as a resource for film historians world-wide. After its closure the collection was divided into three portions. The portion relating to pre-cinema (lanterns, etc) was sold to a museum in Turin; Hove Museum has the second and the third is still kept by the Barnes Brothers.
Artefact description
The Barnes Collection of moving-image apparatus and ephemera pertaining to the Brighton School of pioneering film-makers. Magic Lantern Collection. Optical Toy Collection
Film Equipment; Early cinema; Silent films; Barnes Collection; Barnes, John; Barnes, William; Collings, Esme; Darling, Alfred; Friese-Greene, William; Smith, George Albert; Urban, Charles; Williamson, James
Mon-Fri, 1000-1700, by prior appointment. Museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 2-5pm Closed Monday (including public holidays); Good Friday, 23-26 December, 31 December, 1 January
Access for outsiders
Yes, open to all.
The Museum does not hold film material. The Collection is object based.
None, except for photographic costs.

Moving Image, Audio and Related Documentation Holdings

10, relating to early film pioneers.
Early film equipment, such as film projectors. 30 approx.
The Barnes Collection archive relating to South East film pioneers.
Film History
Still Images
300. Mostly portrait photographs and images of early technology. There are also some early lantern slides for the cinema dating from from c.1910-1915, and some other pre-1900 examples.

Artefact and Related Documentation Holdings

Objects from cinemas in Brighton and Hove, including seating, posters, tickets machines, murals, photographs, 1912-2004.; Cinema fittings; Cinema plans and architects’ drawings; Projectors; Projection lenses
The Barnes Collection includes ephemera pertaining to the Brighton School of film-makers.; Catalogues; Correspondence; Personal papers; Posters and promotional artwork; Photographs; Promotional literature; Ephemera
The Barnes Collection includes cine cameras made by Alfred Darling, George Albert Smith and James Williamson. These include: Darling’s 42mm Experimental cine camera of 1896, Darling’s Biokam of 1899, distributed by Warwick Trading Co., Darling’s ‘Special Effects’ 35mm cine camera of 1899, GA Smith’s Kinemacolor cine camera of 1910, Williamson’s ‘Ensign’ 35mm cine camera of 1914, Williamson’s 35mm aerial camera of 1917 and Williamson’s ‘tropical’ 35mm cine camera of 1912.; Cine cameras; Camera mounts and accessories
Projection & Viewing
The collections contain: approx. 7000 magic lantern slides, as well as magic lanterns and toy magic lanterns including a Biunial magic lantern, and optical toys and stereoscopes. Mutoscopes include a Parisienne Can-can mutoscope. Early flick books and kinora.; Magic lanterns; Flick books and associated technologies; Peepshows; Slides; Slide projectors; Slide viewers; Other viewers; Stereoviews
Toys & Games
Phenakistisacopes, Thaumatropes, Zoetropes and Kaleidoscopes; Optical toys; Toys


Computerised database
Being developed.
Online catalogue
under development
Printed catalogue
Not yet.
Card catalogue
Digitised catalogue
No. Trying to find funding.

Additional Information

Artefact notes

Main Contact

Suzie Plumb
Job title
Curator of Toys, Film and Media
01273 292831
01273 292827
19 New Church Road

Alternate Contact

Carrie Wiltshire, Assistant Curator (Toys, Media and Film)
01273 290200
01273 292827

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