Formerly known as the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, Notting Hill’s Museum of Brands takes visitors on a lively journey through the wild history of consumer culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. The Museum of Brands contains approximately 12,000 consumer products arrayed along its memorable Time Tunnel, including toys, games, magazines, food-and-drink packaging, and a wide range of idiosyncratic novelty items. In fact, the Museum of Brands showcases three centuries of marketing trends, advertising campaigns, and more.
History of the Museum of Brands
The unique attraction we know today as the Museum of Brands can trace its origins back to 1984, when a renowned consumer historian named Robert Opie began showing his personal collection of product packaging in London under the name Museum of Advertising and Packaging. The museum has moved locations and changed names several times over the course of the past 20 years; as it has evolved, the attraction has only grown in popularity.
Museum of Brands Highlights
The entire permanent collection of the Museum of Brands is organized chronologically along what they’ve dubbed the Time Tunnel; as a result, without a doubt the centerpiece of any visit to this charming attraction is the opportunity to walk through this remarkable selection of consumer goods spanning some 200 years of British pop culture.
The Time Tunnel begins in the first half of the nineteenth century with a series of products created to celebrate the coronation of Queen Victoria and carries right on through to our contemporary moment. As you pass through the Time Tunnel, you’ll note the rise and fall of such products as magazines, cigarettes, and radios, while charting how marketing trends changed over time as two world wars were fought, women won the right to vote, and numerous fashions went in and out of vogue. It makes for a fascinating self-guided tour.
The Museum of Brands also stages temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These special shows are time-sensitive—meaning they’re always subject to change—so what you’ll actually experience will depend on when you visit the museum. Still, recent temporary exhibitions on display at the Museum of Brands include Brushstrokes and Brands, featuring oil paintings of so-called “heritage brands” by the artist Steven Smith; and The Great Grocery Punch-Up, an exhibit that presents the most popular purchases from British supermarkets across the previous calendar year.
More to See and Do at the Museum of Brands
Though the majority of the attraction consists of the Time Tunnel, the Museum of Brands does contain a few more things worth checking out.
*In striking contrast to the attention-grabbing branding of the products profiled here, the Museum of Brands Café is a quiet spot to snag a small meal or snack. The café serves tea, coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods. Guests can enjoy their food and drink in the café’s light-filled interior or dine on the establishment’s beautiful garden-like patio. Shaded by mature trees, plants, and flowers, it’s an absolutely gorgeous place to relax after you’ve toured the museum.
*In keeping with the attraction’s overall theme and vibe, the Museum of Brands gift shop sells an eclectic assortment of quirky souvenirs, posters, books, and vintage toys, games, and candy. If you’re in the market for a memorable gift, this is a good place to fulfill your task.
*Families visiting the Museum of Brands with small children in tow will want to request an activity sheet from the attraction’s front desk. This handy resource will help your kids get the most out of their time here.
*Something to keep in mind as you plan your visit: there is no on-site parking at the Museum of Brands. Limited street parking is available in the surrounding neighborhood, but when in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to take public transportation. The nearest Tube station is Ladbroke Grove, just around the corner.
Why the Museum of Brands Should Be on Your Must-See List
Kids will get a kick out of the Museum of Brand’s extensive collection of vintage toys and games and . . . who are we kidding? If you see an action figure you remember fondly from your own childhood—or you come across that board game you played obsessively with your friends decades ago but hadn’t thought of in years—you’re liable to fall in love with the Museum of Brands, too. Nostalgia is a powerful force, and the Museum of Brands deploys it to perfection along its engrossing Time Tunnel.