The Museum of Brands used to be the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.
Until it had a rebrand.
Its roots go back to 1963, when 16 year old Robert Opie saved a Munchies wrapper he’d bought at Inverness train station. Giving hope to hoarders everywhere that they might be sitting on a treasure trove, he later opened a museum in Gloucester to showcase his collection of 12,000 vintage posters, brochures and packaging. The museum – and its visitors – grew so much that it moved to Notting Hill in 2001, taking over its current, bigger premises in 2015.
Despite the fact that we see ads and packaging all the time – if anything, we’ve gotten used to blocking them out – it’s a fascinating place. Unlike mummies or fine art, the fact that everything here is so ordinary is exactly what makes it interesting. As the museum puts it, it’s a nostalgic tour through the things that “generations of families have thrown away.”
After all, one man’s trash… can fill an entire museum.
When everything’s put together, it’s easier to realise how much branding reflects a period’s aesthetic and social ideals. Walking through the Museum of Brands’ Time Tunnel, you’ll see how the art of consumerism has evolved over the years, from the chintzy quaintness of Victorian posters to wartime patriotism, idealised 50s domesticity, and today’s adverts that promote brands as champions of wellness, sustainability and inclusivity.
You can see how twiglets were the result of the complex interplay between the end of the Great Depression and the rise of the cocktail party; check out 80s posters promoting ‘The Internet’; and consider the psychological techniques used by wartime recruitment posters. Or you can just enjoy wandering through a labyrinth of ever-changing Bovril tins.
Once you’ve rinsed the gift shop for novelty magnets, games and postcards, you can take a breather in the secret courtyard garden, attached to a café where you can start your own collection by buying a packet of Munchies.
Just make sure they’re in date.
NOTE: The Museum of Brands is open daily (Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-5pm). Entry costs £9 – you can find out more, and book ahead, HERE.
Museum of Brands | 111-117 Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, London W11 1QT
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