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A trip to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, London

By Rach ~ Friday, 30 September 2011

The Museum, tucked away down a pretty side-street in Notting Hill, moments from the hustle and bustle of the Portobello Road, houses an astonishing collection of ephemera collected by the social historian Robert Opie. It is an extraordinary testament to the collector’s obsession, which began at the age of 16 with a packet of Munchies and now extends to thousands and thousands of items from every day life.

When the thousands of pieces of our social history are assembled into some giant jigsaw, the picture becomes clearer as to the remarkable journey we have all come through.

Robert Opie

The museum is laid out as a ‘trip down memory lane’, starting with the Victorian era and tunnelling through to the present day. The amount of items on display is almost overwhelming - every inch of the museum is filled with packages, toys, games, books and advertisements from each era. This saturation allows the visitor to become fully immersed in the style (and aspirations) of the time.

Beyond the time-tunnel is a fascinating exploration of brand. Individual items such as Johnson’s Baby Powder or Cadbury’s drinking chocolate are followed on their journeys from conception to mass-market popularity today. Interestingly, to my mind, the most successful (in terms of design) brands today have stayed very to true to their original packaging. Take Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Brasso, mental images of which are immediately conjurable to the British anyway, the packaging is almost identical to their original packaging.