- The Decorative Art collection includes British, European and American applied art and design from 17th Century to present day including ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture and jewellery. It also includes the contemporary craft collection and the Arts Council (South East) craft collection based at Hove Museum & Art Gallery.
- The Natural Sciences collection includes the Edward Booth collection of British Birds, zoological and geological collections. The collection also holds half a million insects (including butterflies) and a library of 14,000 natural history texts.
- The World Art collection contains 15,000 objects and reference materials from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Americas. One of its notable collectors was James Henry Green who collected material from Burma in the 1920s and 30s.
- The Fine Art Collection comprises sculpture, paintings, mixed media, prints and drawings from 15th – 20th century. There are notable pieces from European Old Masters, specifically the Italian, German, French and Netherlandish schools. The Fine Art collection also contains the Heyer Bequest of 20th Century American paintings by artists, including Frank Stella and Larry Poons. It also includes items donated by Edward James, the collector of surrealist art.
- The Costume and Textile collection contains British, European and North American textiles, costume and accessories from the 18th century to present day.
- The Toy collection contains toys, dolls and games from 18th century to present day. Its founding collection was the National Toy Museum & Institute of Play, containing over twenty thousand items.
- The Film and Media collection contain equipment relating to the development of the early film industry in England 1896-1930. It includes magic lantern projectors and slides, early filmmaking equipment and ephemera.
- The Local and Social History collection includes objects, ephemera, oral history and photographs from 18th century to the present day, representing the social history of Brighton & Hove.
- The Archaeology collection includes material from sites in Brighton & Hove and international sites, including a large collection from Egypt.
- The Oral History collection contains audio recordings of personal memories and experiences of Brighton and Hove and histories relating to the world art, costume craft and film and media collections.
- The Preston Manor collection contains items bequeathed with the manor house in 1932 including furniture, silver, ceramics, pictures and rare books.
- The Royal Pavilion collections include original furniture and fittings, items relating to George IV and archives relating to the building.
The Decorative Art, Natural Sciences and World Art collections are Designated collections which means they have been identified by the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council as collections of national and international importance (in a non-national museum service)
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