Booth Museum of Natural History

Booth Museum of Natural History is a charitable trust managed, municipally-owned museum of natural history in the city of Brighton and Hove in the South East of England. Its focus is on Victorian taxidermy especially of British birds, as well as collections focusing on Entomology (especially lepidoptera), chalk fossils, skeletons and botany. It is part of "Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust". Admission to the museum is free.[1]

Booth Museum of Natural History
Booth Museum of Natural History, Dyke Road, Brighton (IoE Code 480614).JPG
The museum from the southwest
Booth Museum of Natural History is located in Brighton & Hove
Booth Museum of Natural History
Location within Brighton and Hove
Location194 Dyke Road, Brighton, East Sussex, England BN1 5AA
Coordinates50°50′14″N 0°09′12″W / 50.8373°N 0.1532°W / 50.8373; -0.1532Coordinates: 50°50′14″N 0°09′12″W / 50.8373°N 0.1532°W / 50.8373; -0.1532
TypeNatural history museum
Collection size500,000 (approx.)
Public transit accessBrighton railway station;
Brighton & Hove Buses routes 14,14C,27 Edit this at Wikidata


Butterflies exhibit in the museum

The Booth Museum was opened in 1874 by naturalist and collector Edward Thomas Booth.[2] Booth was particularly interested in birds, and it was his ambition, though not fully realized, to collect examples of every bird species found in Britain. Each species collected would include a male, a female, a juvenile and any plumage variations.[3][4] He presented his bird collection in Victorian-style dioramas that attempted to recreate how birds would appear in the setting of their natural habitat.[5] An example in Booth's own notes describe the Gannet diorama as being 'copied from a sketch [of] the North side of the Bass Rock'. Booth was one of the pioneers of such diorama displays, and his museum, the first to present its collection in this manner in Britain, influenced how other museums would present animal species in their displays.[4][6]

Booth donated the museum to the city in 1890 with the proviso that the display of over 300 dioramas should not be altered, and it was opened under Brighton civic ownership in 1891.[2][7] In 1971 the Booth became a Museum of Natural History.[2]

The museum continues to feature the dioramas of British birds in their habitat settings, as well as collections of butterflies, and British fossils and animal bones. Other items have been added to the museum's collection through the years, and it is now home to a collection of approximately 700,000 insects, 73,000 vertebrate related specimens (including osteology, taxidermy and oology) 35,000 fossils and minerals, 60,000 plants and 5,000 microscopic slides.[2]

The collections also include other notable collectors from the region. These include the Herbarium and geological specimens from Sir Alexander Crichton. Crichton was chief Physician to Tsar Alexander I and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna from 1803 to 1819, and as a member of the Linnaean Society of London, collected plant and geological specimens in his spare time.[8] They also include the South and Central American butterflies collected by Arthur Hall over 13 expeditions to the America's between 1901 and 1939.[9] This collection takes up over thirty cabinets, and includes several hundred type specimens. It also includes a 54 volume unpublished treatise on the butterflies of South and Central America.[10]

An unknown species of pterosaur was discovered in the fossil collection of the museum in 2020.[11]


A bird diorama at the Booth Museum of Natural History

The museum's collection of taxidermied birds is one of the largest in the country.[12][13] The museum also has the skeleton collection of Fredrick W Lucas, featuring birds and mammals from around the world, including primates, dolphins as well as extinct species such as the dodo and Thylacine. The largest skeleton is that of an Orca found beached between the piers in 1935.[14] Also included in the display are fossils and minerals. Insects displayed include over 650 types of butterfly.[15] Victorian curiosities such as a hoax merman and a "Toad in the Hole" are also found in the museum.[16]

Several of the exhibits were used as references for CGI animations in the 2019 television adaptation of the fantasy drama His Dark Materials.[17][18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Booth Museu". Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton and Hove site.
  2. ^ a b c d "Booth Museum History". Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust. 2021. Archived from the original on 10 November 2009.
  3. ^ "Booth Museum of Natural History". Day Out with the Kids.
  4. ^ a b Tim Locke (2011). Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park: Local, Characterful Guides to Britain's Special Places. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-1841623436.
  5. ^ Diana Donald (2007). Picturing Animals in Britain, 1750-1850. Yale University Press. pp. 318–319. ISBN 978-0300126792.
  6. ^ Sue Dale Tunnicliffe; Annette Scheerso, eds. (2014). Natural History Dioramas: History, Construction and Educational Role. Springer. p. 33. ISBN 9789401794961.
  7. ^ "Mr. Booth and his museum". Brighton and Hove City Council. Archived from the original on 16 March 2010.
  8. ^ Berrios, G.E. (2011). "G. E. Berrios. 'Mind in general' by Sir Alexander Crichton. History of Psychiatry, SAGE Publications, 2006, 17 (4), pp.469-486" (PDF). History of Psychiatry: 7.
  9. ^ Legg, Gerald (1984). "Arthur Hall: Butterfly Collector Author(s): Legg, G. Source: Legg, G. (1984). Arthur Hall: Butterfly Collector. Biology Curators Group Newsletter, Vol 3 No 10, 588". NATSca. Archived from the original on 28 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Poster | Natural Sciences Collections Association". Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  11. ^ Morris, Steven (10 November 2020). "Remains of new flying reptile species spotted in UK museum drawer". The Guardian.
  12. ^ "What to See: Birds".
  13. ^ Brighton Rough Guides Snapshot Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Rough Guides. 7 November 2013. ISBN 9781409352181.
  14. ^ "Historical UK cetacean strandings dataset (1913-1989) - UK cetacean strandings 1913-1989 - Record 6492 - Data Portal". Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  15. ^ "Butterflies". Booth Museum.
  16. ^ "A Curious Night at the Booth Museum". Brighton Museum.
  17. ^ Wadsworth, Jo (8 November 2019). "Booth Museum hare gets new lease of life as His Dark Materials daemon". Brighton and Hove News. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  18. ^ Brooke, Samuel (9 November 2019). "How a stuffed hare in a Brighton museum became a TV star". The Argus. Retrieved 9 November 2019.

External linksEdit