Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising examines the history of consumer culture from Victorian times to the present day.
The brainchild of Robert Opie, the museum pays affectionate homage to loth century consumerism or, as the Wombles would have it, the 'everyday things that folks leave behind'. Robert Opie's Damascene moment occurred at the age of 16 and involved, of all things, a Munchies' wrapper.
From this humble start his collection has grown to comprise of around 12,000 items, including; Rimmel cosmetics from the 1890s, First World War Oxo Cubes, Mars Bars, Rolos and KitKats from the 1930s, a 1970s Chopper Bike. As well as toys, games, magazines, food and drink packaging, postcards, and advertising artwork. Exhibits are laid out along a mile-long 'time line' that snakes its way from the 1890s to present day and provide plenty of Proustian moments for all ages, provoking delighted cries of recognition as visitors re-encounter the toys, sweets and games of their childhood.
A TV room, playing old television adverts, offers another portal into ours — and advertising's - past. Nostalgia aside, the collection deftly shows how consumerism reflects society, unerringly charting trends like our national obsessions with crisps, ready meals, DIY and washing whiter than white. Striking a chord with current concerns about over-packaging, displays examine the technology and materials of packaging itself, from earthenware to Tetrapak, and explore the evolution of well-known brands.
Commercial artwork is a particular strength of the collection and the flowing Art Nouveau lines of an Edwardian biscuit tin, or the striking Art Deco cover of a 1920s Radio Times show how directly the art movements of the day affected the look of ephemeral everyday items.
The displays of vintage fashions through the decades — from flapper dress to mini skirt — have been expanded and reflect Opie's view of clothing as the ultimate human packaging. The shop stocks an appealing range of nostalgic products and the tea room now comes with an en-suite garden, with jungly planting and outdoor seating.