Sometimes it’s the smallest, quirkiest and most overlooked sights that offer the biggest clues on a place, the locals and their story. They’re often the most fun places to discover, too, taking you off the beaten path into streets and areas of a place you might not walk along otherwise… so follow me!
Anna’s Museum in Brighton is one of these kinds of places. I stumbled on it by chance one Saturday day, on a detour up a side street to escape the shopping crowds in the centre of town. It’s easy to miss though, as it’s not a museum in a traditional sense; more a secret shop window of curiosities – as I like to call it – that you stop to look at on a wander past.
It belongs to young Brighton resident and natural history collector, Anna Rubinstein, known as the city’s youngest taxidermist, who started collecting things around age four and got into taxidermy and natural history a few years later.
By her teens, she had built up an impressive collection of natural history artifacts, which she displays as “Anna’s Museum” in this former shop window in central Brighton. Everything is neatly presented in little wooden boxes and glass jars, and hand labelled so you know what you’re looking at.
The collection grows and changes over time and includes things like antlers and bone, shells, fossils, rocks, precious stones, and an arrangement of stone eggs. When I walked past, a curious stuffed squirrel in a bell jar wearing a waistcoat and holding an egg took centre stage, alongside a pheasant and a flying seagull with its wings outstretched.
Anna’s Museum has touched the hearts of many fellow collectors and Brighton and Hove locals so much, that she often receives regular donations, which she adds to her display of treasures alongside hand-written letters from their donors.
You’ll find Anna’s Museum at 44 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH.