The Barnes Collection is a collection of film apparatus and ephemera relating to pioneering Victorian filmmakers from Brighton and Hove. It was purchased by Hove Museum & Art Gallery in 1997 with money from the Headley Trust and the Friends of Hove Museum.
The collection was bought from collectors John and William Barnes, who were identical twins, which was previously housed at their Barnes Museum of Cinematography in St. Ives, Cornwall – and that’s where I remember seeing at least some of it, as I grew up in the seaside town.
Located in Fore Street, it was right opposite the chemists where I sued to get my Instamatic-shot photographs developed… yes, another technology that might mystify some today, jusy like the contents of the museum!
YouTube channel Horipet has posted a documentary about the original museum. John Barnes takes the Westward TV reporter (possibly the much-loved Kenneth MacLeod, but there are no credits) around the museum, a wonderful visual guide to early cinema and cinematic techniques.
The Barnes Collection today includes a variety of equipment and ephemera relating to Victorian film pioneers local to Brighton and Hove. These filmmakers were known as the Brighton School and includes James Williamson, George Albert Smith, Alfred Darling, Charles Urban and William Friese-Greene.
Equipment on display includes Williamson’s Aerial camera, which was used for reconnaissance during the first half of the twentieth-century, and Alfred Darling’s Biokam.
Along with film equipment, the Barnes Collection incorporates a large variety of ephemera including cabinet photographs, carte-de-visite photographs, theatre programmes, catalogues, articles, books, episcope cards and Victorian postcards.