Open Weekend at London Transport Museum depot in Acton
The first room we were shown was the original artwork room, but the first things that struck me were the large wooden crates with a New York address written on the side and I was immediately filled with the excitement I always get when being anywhere near the behind the scenes workings of a museum. After a few moments wondering what was in them and what exhibition they were for I managed to stop and listen to the guide telling us about the art that was the starting point for the posters we’d see in the next room.
The London Underground has a long history of producing quality posters and a strong corporate identity, and so it was interesting to hear how underground stations used to be full of written word advertising all over the walls, so much so that people couldn’t tell if the stop they’d just arrived at was Baker Street or Pear’s Soap. The underground also needed to advertise itself as, unlike today, it was under utilised.
So considering both those issues Frank Pick, then responsible for marketing and later MD and CEO of the bodies responsible for the London Underground, made the decision to remove many of the confusing words and use the prime advertising space for their own posters, commissioning top artists to design them. And it’s the artwork they produced that you can browse through in the numerous racks in this room.
The poster room is even more interesting as most of the posters I’d never seen before.
My two favourites:
- London 2026, designed in 1926. Inviting the question – what would a design look like today imagining London in 2112?
- MacDonald Gill’s maps of London including a dragon, cricketers, gallows and the zoo.
The guides were brilliant, very informative and clearly genuinely interested in everything they were talking about and showing us. As we were the last group of the day we even got to stay longer as our guide opened up some more of the drawers in the poster room to show us a much wider range of the hundreds and hundreds of posters they have in store.
In February 2013 you can see more of these on display at the London Transport Museum’s exhibition: Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/upcoming-exhibitions
Also, don’t miss out on booking on to the next tours when they start again in April 2013 and in the meantime just have fun browsing through the collection at the poster shop.