Saturday, 20 October 2018

A Pie And A Pint And Museums At Night

We just wanted to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Higgidy Pies and Bedlam Brewery for the generous donations they’re making for our Museums at Night event, Two Halves of Guinness.

The idea for a pie, a pint and a performance came from Trevor Littledale, the star of the show (and our founder Chris’ brother) and since we all at the museum love to watch a show with a pie and a pint in our hands, we thought this was fab!

A Life Examined

The show centres on the well beloved actor Sir Alec Guinness’ introspection at the time of the release of Star Wars. Sir Alec himself was in no way fond of the movie, and worried that it would be his lasting swansong. He dreaded being remembered for a part he had no liking for. He’d had a career which had lasted several decades, and included roles such as the entire D'Ascoyne family in Kind Hearts and Coronets, the eponymous Man in the White Suit and Colonel Nicholson in Bridge on the River Kwai, the role for which he won his first Academy Award. 

Being immortalised as a mystic who spouted “florid, breathless and embarrassing” lines was something that made him “shrivel up a little.”

Guinness had converted to Catholicism in 1956 and tended to consider the role of a Jedi mystic something of a fraud. He said in an interview with Talk magazine while promoting his autobiography ‘A Positively Final Appearance’ that it was his idea to kill off Ben because: "I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo."

The show Two Halves of Guinness is Brighton Toy and Model Museum’s Museums at Night event. In the past we’ve had great fun with Museums at Night. It’s an opportunity for museums to do something a little out of the ordinary to appeal to people who might not necessarily be interested in museums and galleries to come along and get involved. One year your correspondent bought up all the Barbies and Sindys he could find in every charity shop so that we could make dresses, give them makeovers and make them a little more relatable.

It’s important that we thank our sponsors too. What would a pie, a pint and a performance be without a pie and a pint?

Higgidy Pies are a local pie company who make a variety of delicious pies and pastries, and they’ve given us enough pies (both veggie and meaty) to sustain the hungriest of audience member for the evening. (check out their website, they’re not stingy with their recipes for all kinds of pies, pastries and confectionary either!)

Likewise, Bedlam Brewery, again a local company making fine bitters,ales, and lagers who’re helping us out by letting us have crates of the stuff to share with our visitors on the night.

We really are grateful, as it’s contributions like these that let us do things that would otherwise be outside our scope thanks to expense and inconvenience. You guys are great and we’re looking forward to putting on many more events with your help.

To book your ticket, please follow this eventbrite link

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Opening Night at The Toy Museum Folk Club

The Toy Museum Folk Club kicked off last night with two brilliant sets, first from Jack Harris, and then the headline act Jess Morgan.

Jack Harris is an accomplished singer songwriter with a number of well regarded albums under his belt. Haunting vocals and enchanting lyrics, telling stories that everyone could easily relate to.

Jess Morgan is widely regarded as one of the finest and most uncompromising performers on the British folk scene today. She tours relentlessly (even in Whitby) and her engaging, thought provoking songs are welcomed wherever she goes. Her songs are acutely observed ballads concerning love, loss and redemption, and it was a joy to see her playing live in such an intimate venue as Brighton Toy and Model Museum.In the run-up to Christmas we have many more confirmed shows taking place at the Toy Museum Folk Club, each will be appearing after an appropriate support act who will be confirmed as each date approaches. To stay informed about who will be on, do follow our facebook events page (which includes details for all other events happening at Brighton Toy and Model Museum) or join us on Twitter where we regularly share updates and news. We look forward to many more fabulous nights at the Toy Museum Folk Club and sincelerly hope you will join us too!

Monday, 20 August 2018

Alive with Music, History, Science and Theatre

We’re pleased to announce our summer/autumn schedule of events. After such a successful and full spring/summer we needed a little break, but now we’re back with a completely different flavour. During the Brighton Festival Fringe we hosted a number of different shows, including comedy, magic and authors. The staff played a huge role in making this a successful Fringe, with many of the shows selling out. Buoyed up and excited with that under our belts, now on with the new.

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is now working closely with Folk Room, a part of Folk Room Records, hosting many of their signings’ live events in our upper arch. The space is perfect for unplugged folk as it is so intimate, and the acoustics so rich that many previous performers have commented on what a great place to play it is.

All the information on the performances from August through to November can be found on our Facebook Events Page, but for quick reference they are:

*August 24, Jess Morgan
*September 7, Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith
*September 22, Ewan McLennan
*October 6, Emily Mae Winters
*November 9, Mairearad & Anna

Folk Room have done so much it’s been incredible. It’s a privilege to work with people who have such commitment and dedication to folk music.

Heritage Open Day

As well as these fantastic gigs, we’re also putting on several other events which should be of interest to all, not just those who are folk fans. Firstly we’re putting on anther Heritage Open Day on September 15 where you will be able to take a guided tour around the museum by people who know much more about the building and its history than just its toys. You can find out about the building’s history as a stables and depot for Bass Breweries, how it was bought two and a half decades ago by our founder Chris Littledale and converted into the museum as it is now. And of course you’ll find out about our favourite pieces in the collections. Tours will take place at 5.45pm 6.15pm and 6.45pm

Brighton Science Festival

If heritage were to have an opposite, it would surely be looking into the future, and that’s exactly what he try to do when we host Brighton Science Festival’s 'Kids In Science' events. This spring we had an absolutely fantastic time with our balloon car races and making moving images. With that in mind, we’re especially keen to open our door yet again to the kids, and their parents, who make this such a great event. Brighton Science Festival exists to show that the sciences can be fun, and make up every part of our lives, rather than being the preserve of the chemistry or physics laboratory. This autumn's Kids in Science events will take place on October 22, with a 'Kinetic Carousel's' theme.

Two Halves of Guinness

And Last, but far from least, we have the intimate portrayal of Sir Alec Guinness in Two Halves of Guinness, a one man show by Trevor Littledale. The play looks, from his own point of view, at the career of Alec Guinness shortly after the release of Star Wars. He worried that this blockbuster might define his career, leaving his performances in films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Man in the White Suit, and Kind Hearts and Coronets forgotten.

For all booking details visit our Facebook events page or call us on 01273 749494 for further details.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Get Aboard the Community Rail Partnership

Brighton Toy and Model Museum is enjoying some fantastic publicity thanks to our new sponsors and the Sussex Community Rail Partnership

Earlier this year we were incredibly proud and privileged to sign up with Brighton Station, becoming the first signatory to their Community Rail Partnership Agreement. Under this agreement we get to display a banner at the station entrance directing visitors and residents of Brighton and Hove to our venue, so whether you’re looking for us specifically, or you’re just visiting and looking for something to do, you know where we are. We also have a Swan Neck, a portable billboard which stands on the station concourse which directs visitors to Brighton toward our location.

We also have display cabinets in the booking office containing several items of our collection. Nobody likes queueing, and these displays offer a little something to look at and attract interest as you wait your turn. And it’s these display cabinets we’re looking to find sponsors for.

Annual Sponsorship Deals Bring Excellent Returns

We’re currently offering a one year sponsorship deal for £500. For this, not only will you get to display your company name in a location that is normally unavailable for advertising and marketing, you get a place on the Brighton Toy and Model Museum Sponsor’s Page (through testing we’ve found that links from our official museum site are incredibly good for SEO).

Jan Etches, Deputy Museum Manager and driving force behind getting Brighton Toy and Model Museum on board the Community Rail Partnership Agreement said “This is a fantastic opportunity to let people know where the museum is whilst creating partnerships with Brighton Railway Station and other local businesses.”

Extraordianary Opportunities

Brighton Station is the 9th busiest in the UK, outside London, and sponsorship would mean placing your company name on one of the cabinets. This space isn’t available to traditional display advertising as it is only for the use of Network Rail and their partners such as Govia Thameslink and Southern Rail. However, through your sponsorship you will be contributing to a Sussex Community Rail Partnership member, thereby allowing you to have your business name displayed alongside our exhibit.

To take up sponsorship, please call the Deputy Museum Manager, Jan Etches on 01273 749494 for more details and restrictions.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Two Halves of Guinness at the Museum

Anyone less than 50 (and many people older) will have seen Star Wars. As well as seeing the movies, most of us will have collected the toys, models and other merchandise which went along with the film’s success.

Trevor Littledale by
One of the film’s main protagonists (the donor/mentor according to Todorov and Propp) was Obi Wan Kenobi, a mystical wizard cum knight tutor played by famed British character actor Alec Guinness. Despite having worked on stage and in film for decades, Guinness was famously worried that his part in Star Wars would be his defining role, leaving his portrayal of the entire D’Ascoyne family in Kind Hearts and Coronets, of Sidney Stratton in The Man in the White Suit, and even his playing of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he won an academy award, forgotten. According to Guinness’ son Matthew, when Sir Alec met a child fan who said he had seen the Star Wars ‘a hundred times’ he said to the young chap “Well, do you think you could promise never to watch it again?”

The one man play Two Halves of Guinness, performed by Trevor Littledale, finds us meeting Guinness in a cosy bar as he faces crippling insecurity after taking part in the creation of the Sci-Fi epic. Not only does it inspect the actor’s personal anxieties, it also looks at the relationship he had with other British acting luminaries such as Olivier and Coward, his conversion to Catholicism, his upbringing, the war, and the premonitions he often had, leading to the warning he gave James Dean on the night before his fatal car accident.

Littledale characterises Guinness perfectly, using miniscule body movements and changes in expression and voice to become another character within the monologue. The ‘two halves’ of the title refers to the two distinct sides of Guinness’ personality; the dark, anxious, insecure side brought about by being born illegitimate to an alcoholic mother and never really knowing who his father was, being taken constantly from digs to boarding houses while he was growing up, adding to his sense of vulnerability. The other half, the lighter side, looks at his life as an entertainer. How, once he’d decided to become an actor, he simply looked up John Gielgud in the directory and phoned him to ask for acting lessons. Gielgud was unable to oblige personally, but the two became firm friends.

The play is being performed in Brighton Toy and Model Museum, a space which lends itself well to the performance as Trevor feels that the proximity of the audience to the actor adds vital intimacy to the play as it unfolds.

For booking information and to buy tickets for the show when it is staged in October, simply follow the link to Eventbrite

Blog by Dan Cash, opinions are author's own.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Tea And Cake Anyone?

What We're Doing For National Volunteers' Week

National Volunteers Week is an annual occasion where people who give up their time for free to organisations all over the UK are recognised for their efforts and the richness they add to their local communities.

Many organisations simply wouldn’t be able to run if it weren’t for the generosity of time and labour that the volunteering minded give. When we think of the voluntary sector we immediately think of people who work in charity shops and animal shelters, but there are a staggering number of ongoing projects which would be impossible to maintain without volunteers. From reading to people who have sight problems to the WRVS who help elderly people enjoy a productive and valuable social life.

Brighton Toy Museum, volunteers, language skills, ESOL, Travel, tourism
Learning Handy Rhyming Slang
Another sector that relies heavily on volunteers for its survival is the heritage sector. Many museums and galleries are independently run on incredibly narrow margins and wouldn’t be able to operate at all if it weren’t for the contribution that volunteers make. And Brighton Toy and Model Museum is no exception. Each year we take on volunteers and work experience candidates from the local area, and all over Europe. Our international volunteers work here as part of their tertiary education, getting real life experience working in a tourist venue, speaking English (and helping out immeasurably when our visitors share the same first language), making friends and making a valuable contribution to the running of the museum.

Give Your Time, Gain Valuable Skills

Our British volunteers add their many skills to the mix too, selling tickets, offering free tourist information, assisting in the archiving and cataloguing of the museum’s many thousands of exhibits, and getting involved with events such as Museums at Night, Brighton Festival Fringe, The Brighton Science Festival and the Sussex Rail Community Partnership. Even if it were possible to stay open without the help of our volunteers, it would be impossible for it to engage with the community and offer a fraction as much as it does. And National Volunteers’ Week is an opportunity to show our appreciation to the people whose work makes our work possible.

During National Volunteers’ Week every day will be tea and cake day for all of our helpers. Because most volunteers only come in on the same day every week, it’s quite possible for people who have been working here for ages to never meet other volunteers because they always work different days.  So we’re offering tea and cake to all of our volunteers every day. Drop in, enjoy some of Brighton’s finest pastry confections and finally get to meet a few of the other people who do so much to keep the heritage of play and childhood memories alive. How cool is that?

National Volunteers’ Week Goes from June 1st to June 7th. If you’ve got free time and you’d like to become a hero of the local community, why not see what volunteering can do for you?

Blog by Dan Cash, all opinions author's own.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Why A Rainy Day Is A Great Reason To Do Indoor Things In Brighton

Summer means fun, summer means barbecues on the beach, shorts and bikini tops, sunbathing in the garden or park and long bike rides with friends.

Summer also means wet bank holidays, grey, windy weekends where the kids are stuck indoors and long summer holidays where you’re in charge of a houseful of people who are all looking at you for something to entertain them. Over the past few years we’ve all felt a little cheated; the weather in late spring has been fine so we’ve got ourselves all geared up for a great summer, only to find it wet and blustery.

We’re used to seeing front page headlines in the papers with their fanfares of scorching record summer temperatures accompanied by pictures of the Brighton seafront so crowded that it’s near impossible to move, but what about the legendary ‘miserable bank holiday weekend’ where the sun can barely push its face past the gloom and grey?

If you’ve got kids you’ll know how frustrating it is to have to keep them in when they’re busting to get out and do something, so why not think about some of the great things to do on a wet weekend in Brighton? If you’re coming from outside of town, hoping for sunshine and lollipops only to find it’s a day for hot soup and pacamacs, or you’re local but you’ve just stumped for thigs to do, why not take a look at some of these “off the beaten track” indoorsy things to do on a rainy day in Brighton?

First of all there’s the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Located directly under the train station it’s easy to find without scampering about in the wet. The museum is home to thousands of individual exhibits which will bring back all kinds of memories of childhood and play. There are often many different things going on, such as running days where many rare model trains can be seen racing about the tracks. Activity packs are available to inspire children to explore and get much more out of the exhibits. It also has a tourist information point in the foyer so you can ask for tips on where to go and plan what to do next.

Brighton also has dozens of galleries. Just down the street from Brighton Toy and model Museum you will find Dynamite Gallery where you can see superb work by some of the best contemporary local artist. “Best contemporary local artists” might not mean much in many places, but in Brighton where there is such a vibrant artistic community, fed by universities and colleges with excellent art programmes, you can be sure they will be very good indeed. Just around the corner is Onca, a gallery dedicated to work that highlights environmental issues by featuring exhibits and events produced by people who are dedicated to bringing about progressive change. Then there are BozBoz Gallery which again is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary modern art and Phoenix Gallery which not only exhibits art by local artists, but provides more than 100 studio spaces where they can work, meaning that there is never any shortage of the finest painting, sculpture, design and textile work on display.
If you’re in Brighton with the kids, they might not be so interested in looking at art, so why not take them to the trampoline park or for an afternoon’s lasertag?

Located just outside Brighton is Sussex’s Skyhigh trampoline park which a variety of different packages for adults and children depending on the size and ages of the groups. They also offer fitness and toning classes as well as quieter sessions for children who prefer to bounce without whistles and music.

Brighton’s Laserzone is at the bottom of the street straight down from the train station and just across the road from the beach. Themed on a crashed spaceship which is surrounded by a hostile environment and even more hostile enemies, the venue caters for individuals, small or large groups, even corporate events. 

If you’re the kind of person who’s more interested in making friends with creatures from another world, how about the Sealife Centre? There are many beautiful creatures bobbing about, including phenomenally huge spider crabs, massive sharks, and black pacu. There are also little rays and starfish who will shake your hand and octopus who are said to be as clever as your pet dog. (But they never come when you whistle.)

Regency Town House is a fascinating restoration of a terraced house which has been brought back to its original grandeur. It’s a peek behind the doors of history, celebrating not only the experiences of the wealthy and powerful, but the realities of lives lived by the more humble members of society. Part of what they do is ‘Period Cooking’ using recipes and ingredients which would have been available to Brightonians in the time of the Prince Regent.

If you’re down in Brighton during the Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe you’ll find many of the parks and open spaces have theatres, stalls and all kinds of events set up for your entertainment. As well as this, there are many shows in theatres, bars, streets and then there’s the Artists’ Open Houses. A great opportunity to see art and sculpture that artists have created displayed in homes, cafes, and galleries throughout the city. Also a great opportunity to snoop around people’s homes, if you like that kind of thing. You’ll need to go online or pick up a listings paper to find out what’s going on as there are so many events it’s impossible to keep track.

A Pie And A Pint And Museums At Night

We just wanted to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Higgidy Pies and Bedlam Brewery for the generous donations they’re making for our Museums ...