In a world where anything can be thrown away and replaced, a museum in west London provides a historic journey of changing consumer brands. The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising can be found in North Kensington and is home to memorabilia including packaging, games, radios and televisions. It is a unique record of British social history dating back to the Victorian era.
The museum has been open since 1984 and in 2005 relocated from Gloucester to London Notting Hill. Now, eleven years later, it has moved once again to its latest home in the Light House of North Kensington. The Light House opened in 1988 and was a centre for patients with HIV and Aids; the centre was visited frequently by the late Princess Diana.
The founder and curator of the museum, Robert Opie, shared the history of his collection:
“In many ways I started the early part of the collection down Portobello road exploring amongst all the antique stores. What we have on show here should have perhaps never have existed, it should have all been thrown away. It’s the quantity of these hidden stories that come together to make up this fascinating insight of the world that has disappeared.”
A short walk from the museum is the famous Portobello Road Market. Nicholas Plakas, an antique store manager, explained why he believes collecting is important:
“Collection is not so easy, it means knowledge, it means appreciation, it means hunting and it needs money. It’s not only a hobby it’s a challenge and we live here for the challenges. It can be from shoes, it can be hats, it can be mics, it can be anything. Those are collectable things. They have some value and meaning in the history that they will pass to the next generations.”
Visitors to the museum are treated to a nostalgic walk down memory lane. One visitor told us “the most interesting thing for me is that it has brought alive some memories of things that I still do or still have or things that I used to do.” Other visitors also recognised childhood toys “The magic robot which I completely forgot about, just seeing it here I can remember what it sounded like and how it moved.”
As well as visitors from the UK, including fashion students and marketing students, tourists also enjoy the treasures the museum has to offer. Two visitors from Denmark highlighted that “there are not that many brands that we recognise, there are a few but quite a few of them we realise are simply English.” The museum demonstrates and brings to life things that are important to British culture and how things change reflecting on the time that we live in.
Another visitor expressed how the museum shows that the UK has always “jumped on any innovations straight away, we’ve not just been complacent we’ve always been pushing due to completion in the market”
This is a large collection of items and the new location is a lot bigger than its previous locations, allowing more exhibits to be displayed. One visitor acknowledged “as much as it’s lovely looking at all of these things it’s just stuff and I wouldn’t want it in my house. It’s really lovely to see that collected so people can look back it and see what our lives were like. How our lives have changed and how our children can’t actually imagine the fact that television started at lunch time and switched off at 11. There wasn’t really any children’s television. We can all afford everything now when we were children we couldn’t, you saved up for months for stuff and now everything is so accessible.”
The museum is forever evolving, and regardless of your age and generation there is something for everyone in the time tunnel. “This is necessary, we should never forget these things” were the final words from another visitor of the museum.