The Booth Museum of Natural History, viewed from across Dyke Road, Brighton. This attractive and nicely set Grade II listed building was built in 1874 to house the collection of ornithologist Edward Thomas Booth (1840-1890). Of brown brick, with stone and polychromatic brick dressings, it is essentially a long narrow rectangular gallery lined with display cases and spaces dedicated, now, not only to birds but also to butterflies, skeletons, dinosaur bones, fossils, minerals etc., and including areas for temporary exhibitions and study.

The editor of Booth's original catalogue wrote:

This building is as unique as the collection which it contains. Its position was chosen on the dry airy hill outside the town expressly for the purpose it fulfils. It was designed with the object of combining the requisite light, airiness and freedom from damp and dust, without which a collection cannot be properly seen or safely preserved, and the result fully satisfied [Booth] and justifies his care. [ix]

Left to right: (a) Display cases on one side of the main gallery. (b) Definitely post-Booth, the skeleton of a killer whale arranged near an elephant skull. (c) Looking through into the butterfly and classroom area, past a furnished space reminiscent of a late Victorian drawing room.

"The Late Mr. E. T. Booth." Source: Griffith, facing p. viii.

When Booth died on 8 February 1890, he left the Museum and collection to the Corporation of Brighton "on the express understanding that they would not alter the interior of the cases, and that they would take the same care of them as he had hitherto done" (qtd. in Griffith ix). The collection itself did change though — or rather expand, first when his widow gave it all Booth's hunting equipment, his natural history library, and his as yet uncased birds, and then later when the other types of natural history collections were added. Packed with interest, this characterful Victorian building is now another of the unexpected treats that Brighton offers its many visitors.

Photographs, image download and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. The photographs are reproduced here by kind permission of the museum, with special thanks to the Visitors' Service Officer there. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]

Related Material


Booth Museum of Natural History...." British Listed Buildings. Web. 20 October 2015.

The Booth Museum of Natural History, Brighton. Booklet available at the museum.

Griffith, A. P., ed. Catalogue of the Cases of Birds in the Dyke Road Museum, Brighton. Brighton: King 1896. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California Libraries. Web. 20 October 2015.

Created 20 October 2015