Graphic Design of World War One

To commemorate the end of the First World War, we are extending our permanent displays with items from this pivotal moment in history.

Using a rich legacy of postcards, posters, decorative tins, books, toys, puzzles and games, the vibrant graphics of War and Peace focuses on those who endured the hardships of life on the home front. Today, we often think of this period in terms of black and white film footage or sepia photographs, but in reality it had its own colourful energy, graphics and sentiment.

The Great War was to devastate the tranquil life of post-Edwardian Britain. Recruiting posters encouraged the youth of the Empire to join the fighting forces, as a wave of patriotic spirit swept through the country.

Manufacturers produced tins and boxes that waved the flags of Britain’s allies and promoted the images of the military leaders. Postcard humour pervaded every aspect of daily life, including making light of food shortages. Numerous puzzles and games, such as ‘Race to Berlin’ and ‘Obliterating Germany’, gave a topical twist to family entertainment.

Perhaps the greatest of changes came as women were motivated to replace the men who were in the trenches. Women’s magazines extolled the virtues of jobs in munition factories, working on the farm, or as post women, police women or fire fighters. Nurses were now needed as never before.

A hundred years after the end of this conflict, it is time for us all to reflect on how ordinary people showed their courage and fortitude, at a moment when so many loved-ones never returned home.

Admission tickets to the Museum include full access to our exhibitions.