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Fifty years ago, Robert Opie saw the need to unravel the fascinating story of how consumer products and promotion had evolved since Victorian times. By 1975 Robert had enough material to hold his own exhibition, The Pack Age, at the Victoria & Albert Museum. After a sixteen year career in market research, he opened the first museum devoted to the history of packaging and advertising in Gloucester in 1984.
Although the focus of Robert's research has been the history of supermarket brands, his other interests extend to all other aspects of our consumer story: toys and games, travel and transport, leisure and entertainment, magazines and newspapers, technology and fashion, as well as the evidence of historic events like wars, major exhibitions and royal occasions. All this gives a wider context to the everyday history of marketing trends.
You can take your pick as to whether Robert Opie is a consumer historian or a supermarket archaeologist, but after writing some twenty books and appearing on endless television and radio shows, he has become a leading authority on his subject. Perhaps less well known is his passion for the history of ancilinary subjects, from entertainment and transport to toys and communication.
“I was struck by the idea that I should save the packaging which would otherwise surely disappear forever. The collection offers evidence of a dynamic commercial system that delivers thousands of desirable items from all corners of the world, a feat arguably more complex than sending man to the Moon, but one still taken for granted.”
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