ABOUT US

The Museum of Brands explores how brands shape – and are shaped by – people, culture and society.

Located on 111-117 Lancaster Road, 2 minutes from Portobello Road, we show 150 years of brands, packaging and advertising though the permanent exhibition the ‘Time Tunnel’ created by consumer hisotrian Robert Opie.

The Museum presents temporary exhibitions, talks and workshops, to create debate, ideas and examine the role of brands in history and the modern world. The Museum has a subtropical garden, cafe and Museum gift shop for visitors to enjoy. We host more than 200 events and conferences per year for brands such as Unilever, Facebook, Tesco and more.

Our learning programme for schools and universities attracts more than 20,000 students a year.

TIME TUNNEL

Here is the remarkable story of how our consumer society has evolved since Victorian times. It’s a journey of discovery that puts our favourite brands into their historical context, alongside royal coronations, two world wars, man landing on the moon and right up to the computer and digital age. Laid out chronologically, the Time Tunnel reflects how daily life has been transformed by the invention of the railway, the motor car, and the aeroplane; and how entertainment has been enlivened by the arrival of cinema, radio and television.

Memories are triggered by an abundance of toys and games that, since the 1950s, have reflected the most popular television programmes. Magazine covers illustrate the change in style and fashion, while colourful graphic posters connected to the product aspirations of each period.

Amongst this merriment of memories, there are many underlying stories to consider –  the rapid advance in technology, the passing of the domestic servant, the emancipation of women, the takeover of the self-service store, the increasing variety of convenience foods, the benefits of refrigeration, as well as the growth of plastics.

Whether or not you are a lover of nostalgia, package design, or the history of our throwaway society, this Museum offers the ultimate treasure trove of childhood memories – toys and sweets, crisps and breakfast cereals. It’s also a revelation into the culture and lifestyle of our grandparents’ generation, where it’s worth remembering that the items on display were once the cutting edge of their time.

OUR HISTORY

More than fifty years ago consumer historian Robert Opie began 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. In 1984 he opened the first museum devoted to the history of packaging and advertising in Gloucester.

In the early 2000s, the collection needed a new home. With the help of global brand agency pi Global and founding sponsors Cadbury, Twinings, Vodafone, Diageo, Kellogg’s and McVities, the Museum became a charity and opened in Notting Hill, London. After ten successful years, the Museum had outgrown its building and in 2015 relocated to a larger site nearby, just around the corner from the world-famous Portobello Road Market.

The relocation project added new galleries, a dedicated learning space, café and garden. Support for the project has come from founders including Diageo, DS Smith, the Garfield Weston Foundation and the John Lyon’s Charity.

ROBERT OPIE

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 ancillary 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.”