Brighton Royal Pavilion Museums Trust reveal exciting plans

THE BOSS of a new charitable trust has revealed his exciting plans for some of the city’s most historic buildings and museums.

Hedley Swain became Chief Executive Officer for the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust on the first day of the second national lockdown in November last year.

The trust is responsible for the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Hove Museum and Art Gallery, the Booth Museum of Natural History and Preston Manor.

The Argus: Hedley Swain at the Brighton Museum ahead of the opening of the David Bowie exhibitionHedley Swain at the Brighton Museum ahead of the opening of the David Bowie exhibition

Despite starting his role during one of the most challenging periods the museums’ history, Hedley says the trust have been able to use the time to do a lot of “planning and thinking” about the future of its institutions.

He said: “Brighton is a really unique place and there’s nowhere else in Britain and probably nowhere else in Europe like Brighton, and we need to play to that in terms of what we do.

“I’m really keen to bring more performance, dance and music back into the Pavilion. Brighton is a festival city, and we need to play more to that, and we want to be part of that.

The Argus: Brighton's Royal PavilionBrighton’s Royal Pavilion

“We’re next to them Dome which is a major festival location. We are all looking forward to the Christmas festival that is being planned, and we hope we will have the ice-rink back and a great offering there.”

Hedley, who has previously worked for the Arts Council, says the Trust is also focusing on how to engage the community in exhibitions at its suburban museums including Hove Museum, Preston Manor and Booth Museum.

He said: “The first thing we are trying to do is recognise that all the museums are really important to us, and we are trying to think about the particular value they bring to the people of Brighton and Hove and how we can emphasise that.

The Argus: Hove Museum is part of the Royal Pavilion and Museums TrustHove Museum is part of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust

“Preston Manor, The Booth and Hove are all in the suburbs if you like with local populations and what we would like very much is to make them the museums of the local people so that they really value.

“We are also thinking about what particular stories do they tell and how can they engage.”

The trust is taking inspiration from its David Bowie photography exhibition, which is currently on show at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, when planning future exhibits.

The Argus: Geoff MacCormack at the David Bowie exhibit at Brighton MuseumGeoff MacCormack at the David Bowie exhibit at Brighton Museum

Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me: Bowie/MacCormack 1973-76 was due to end this summer but has been extended until January 2022 after it was forced to close due to lockdown.

Hedley says the popularity of the exhibition has encouraged him to look at running similar shows that will appeal to visitors and people who live in the city.

He said: “The exhibition just perfectly hits the Brighton zeitgeist. It’s lovely for me because as you walk around Brighton you notice that all of the record shops have all of their Bowie albums in the windows, and you go to the art shops and they have all of their power pictures and posters.

The Argus: David Bowie and Geoff MacCormack taken from the Brighton Museum exhibitionDavid Bowie and Geoff MacCormack taken from the Brighton Museum exhibition

“I think it’s brought a really lovely buzz to Brighton. It perfectly hits the sort of people who live in Brighton, and it also brings tourists. It’s a great, great show.

“In the future that’s the sort of show we need to look for.

“So next summer, when the Women’s Euros are in the country and Brighton is a host city, we will have an exhibition about the history of women’s football at Brighton Museum.

“Not only will it tell the history of women’s football but will make the point of how women’s football has also been linked with women’s rights.”

For more information about The Royal Pavilion and Museums, visit https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/about-us/royal-pavilion-museums-trust/

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