Interview with Jess: Learning Volunteer

In the first of a series of interviews Jess Hill tells us about her time volunteering in the Learning Department of the Museum of Brands

Jess pic_crop

Describe your volunteer role

My role changes every time I volunteer, which I love. Today I have been helping to create workshop resources for schools and scheduling tweets for our Gender in Advertising events. My favourite role is assisting with the school and university hour long workshops. I enjoy encouraging the students to think critically and creatively about the brands we take for granted. I even lead some of the workshops now which has been great for my confidence!

How would you describe the Museum?

Eclectic, fascinating, but also a place that contains objects that everyone can relate to and associate with their own lives. I took my parents on a tour of the museum this weekend and they couldn’t stop telling each other stories about toys and food brands they remembered – so it’s definitely a place of nostalgia, too.

If you could highlight one Museum object what would it be and why?

This is tricky, there are so many to choose from! I think it would have to be one of the games that were made during the Second World War. My favourite is the dart board with Hitler in the centre and 2 points if you hit Churchill?! It seems crazy to think these were played and enjoyed during such a difficult time in Britain’s history.

What’s the most encouraging/interesting thing a visitor/learner has ever said to you?

The best thing for me is seeing the comments left by students and teachers after having a workshop session. They are always really positive and show that the workshops allow students to think about the collection in a more creative way.

What has the next few months got in store for you at the Museum?

Well, I am a Master’s student and was thinking about doing my major project based on this museum, so hopefully this will start to develop. But, of course, I am going to continue volunteering and helping with the learning sessions!

What’s your favourite object?


I’m Helen, a new learning volunteer with the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising. I will be working with Rose on the new Young People’s Programme and Youth Panel. You can read more about it across the website. I will be blogging about my experiences and exciting things happening at the museum while I am here. If like to introduce myself with writing about my favourite object in the Museum….

I have two; I know that’s cheating but I think both are equally interesting and had me delving into research and learning the histories and relevance of the items today. The first being a small perfume bottle: E Rimmel’s Florida Water, London & Paris. There are dozens of elegant perfume bottles inside the Time Tunnel which is the Museum’s main exhibit, and this one in particular caught my interest because it looks like a significant piece of design that would have a desirable weight, texture, and (hopefully) scent. Florida Water is a sweeter, American version of the original Eau de Cologne, but with orange flavoured rather than the traditional lemon.

The second item is not something I would like to smell….! Swinborne’s Patent Refined Isinglass – for invalids and confectionary. After doing some research about Swinborne and the history behind this product I discovered that he and Richard Archer Wallington filed a bill against rival company ‘Nelson’s Gelatine Isinglass’ for using their patent, requesting that they should stop making Isinglass. Visually, this is a really beautiful package for a substance whose methods of creation are less than pretty.

So these are two of my favourite items in the museum’s collection. Come and visit us and let me know what your favourites are!

Helen Young Volunteer





Reimagining Recycling

We are pleased to introduce fashion designer Kumiko Tani who is exhibiting three key dresses from her ‘Re-cycle Style’ Collection at the Museum of Brands this summer. We met with Kumiko to find out more about her work.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-30
How did you come to the idea of making dresses out of chocolate wrappers?
I am interested in up-cycle material. I have made dresses out of newspapers, PET bottles, shopping bags and used fabrics, coffee packaging. Chocolate wrappers are also one of the many materials I use.

Normally my dressmaking starts with collecting material myself or asking people to collect it for me. The material of the dresses I’m showing at the Museum of Brands was sponsored by Lindt Hello chocolate for the Berlin Alternative fashion week. I had more pressure than ever before to not waste this material. I tried to make dresses that would gain value through their production and how they looked. They are very delicate and intricate creations. The dresses were originally shown at the catwalk show at Berlin Alternative fashion week titled “Lindt Hello Chocolate Collection”.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-28 Who or what is your inspiration for the work?
Many people make amazing work using recycled material, and sometimes they also recycle the material itself. Those people are all an inspiration to me. I’m also interested in themes surrounding ethical fashion and sustainability, which I make use of in my own creative way. Of course, I like art and fashion, nature and industry. Basically, all my daily life inspires me.

Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-69
Tell us about a bit about how the dresses were made. How long did each dress take to make? Was there some particularly tricky sections or materials you worked with?
I like to use non-fabric material to make dresses, even though they are not very wearable. It’s always very tricky to make them. Before I make the dress, I make many samples to experiment and test the material. For example, I try sewing with the sewing machine, I fold the materials and I also sew by hand. Sometimes I stick the material to paper or fabrics which is the most difficult process.  For the dresses on show at the Museum of Brands I have worked with chocolate packaging, which is the most delicate material. It splits easily and I have had to change the design in the process of making them. The material does not take well to the sewing machine so I have had to hand-sew most of it. It took quite some time to make the detailing of the dresses.
Museum of Brands Kumiko Tani-64
Do you think the dresses can change ideas around recycling and make it more fun and creative?
I sometimes visit recycling factories to get a better understanding about waste and recycling. For instance at the Eco park, in North London, almost all of their waste is remade into new products or restored and sold on.
If each person can gain a better understanding about waste and over-production, such as fast fashion, free newspaper, over-layering wrapping paper in product packaging, then I hope the amount of waste can reduce.
My approach to recycling is just one of way of doing it. If people who see my work become interested in recycling, and perhaps start to reduce waste, that is very nice!!

Meet Gary the Gardener


 The Museum is opening its garden as part of the Open Garden Squares Weekend 18th and 19th of June. We met with Gary, who helped create and has looked after the garden since 1988.
Hailing from Canada and moving to London to study psychotherapy at Regent College, Gary Eisenhauer’s green fingers have been integral to the award-winning garden since its first flowering in 1988.  As he lived close by, Gary began to volunteer at the building when it was the London Lighthouse, initially as a receptionist and working in the residential unit.

Eventually plans were made to improve the garden.  He says the garden was “pretty grim” when they started and it was joked amongst staff that “it looked like a prison exercise area” made up of concrete paving and white plastic furniture. It was so stark and bright “the glare meant you had to wear sunglasses”. The London Lighthouse was central in the campaign for raising awareness about HIV and Aids in the 1980’s and spearheaded progressive treatment for the disease. At the height of the crisis 2000 people a week would pass through the building, and the garden became a place of rest and contemplation. Many of the patients who passed away from the disease had their ashes scattered in the garden. Gary remembers how ‘people also sneaked ashes in and had little impromptu services. It was, and still is, an oasis for people.

We have groups from all over the world coming here at any one time. Yesterday we had a bus load of pensioners, who came to sit in the garden, I told them about what happened here. The Lighthouse is part of our history. The garden and building are still visited and much loved by those who volunteered in the centre and who lost loved ones in the crisis.

One of Gary’s favourite memories is a visit by icon Liz Taylor. “She was very small, like a lot of celebrities. Like a princess she smiled gracefully and when she stepped forward the crowd magically parted in awe.” Speaking of Princesses, the British Royal family were also regular visitors most famously Princess Diana. According to Gary “she would turn up in the middle of the night unannounced and patients would wake to find her holding their hands. The garden was opened by Princess Margaret and the crèche by Prince Charles.

Talking about some of the flora and fauna in the garden, Gary points out some of his favourite features including a Kifsgate Rose which is a rambling rose and the largest rose in England. The garden is “stuffed” according to Gary and has been curated in way so that it performs all year round. The flowers are on rotation and there is mixture of native and tropical plants including lilies, banana, kiwi and citrus ensuring the senses are stimulated by lots of wonderful and intriguing scents. The garden was given a kick start by a huge donation of plants from Crabtree and Evelyn’s display after the Chelsea Garden Show and since then has been a winner of awards and categories including the London Garden Society’s Best Garden.


Gary’s favourite part of the garden is the scented area which is ‘beautiful in the late evening as the scent is really strong. Gary jokingly implies that the garden is popular with ‘the grey-haired brigade’ as gardening is extremely popular and to him as a Canadian the love of gardening seems like a very English trait. He hopes that as the garden continues to grow. School groups can come and learn about nature and young people can be introduced to gardening as a profession.

The Museum of Brands are presenting the magical secret garden for Open Garden Squares Weekend, Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June. Visitors are welcomed to enjoy the garden, meet Gary the gardener and enjoy activities for the whole family.

Read more on the Museum’s What’s On page.

Regular Museum admission charges apply.

Press Release: John Lyon’s Charity supports Engaging Young Learners Project at the Museum of Brands

Museum high res cropped              JLClogo2col

KS4 worksheet in use

The Museum of Brands has been awarded a grant from John Lyon’s Charity to increase the number of children and young people engaging with the Museum. The Charity has provided funding to the Museum to deliver the project with young people, educators and families from nine targeted boroughs: Barnet, Brent, Camden, City of London, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

The Museum will aim to engage 10,000 young people over the next three years, through creating a Youth Panel, new Further Education learning resources and increasing the number of formal sessions to nurseries, schools, colleges and universities from the target boroughs. The funding will help the Museum continue to grow their offer for young people, families and Early Years audiences, in an exciting time where the Museum has moved to new premises in Ladbroke Grove. The funding will help the Museum to be a vibrant local museum for the new area, forming sustainable partnerships with the local community.


Rosemary Cronin, Project Manager stated: “The Museum is delighted to receive the support from John Lyon’s Charity. This will enable us to further develop our important work to educate and entertain the public on the subjects of brands, packaging and advertising and their history. This funding will enable us to build upon an existing learning programme, increasing engagement and enjoyment for our audiences.”

A representative from John Lyon’s Charity stated: ‘John Lyon’s Charity are delighted to be working with the Museum of Brands for the first time, at an exciting time of their relocation. The ‘Engaging Young Learners Project’ will help deliver the Charity’s remit to benefit children and young people up to the age of 25 who live in nine boroughs in northwest London: Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea and the Cities of London and Westminster and encourage more young people to access the fascinating collection at the Museum of Brands.


Information on Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising.

The Museum was established to create access to a nationally significant collection comprising ½ million examples of everyday household goods and related promotional materials, spanning over 150 years of consumer culture. We preserve and protect our extensive collection for posterity and look for interesting ways to interpret the material to connect with existing and new audiences. Our collecting policy ensures today’s everyday products are preserved for the future. In addition to opening daily for the general public, we offer tailored activities to engage with all stages of formal learning, as well as adult, professional, family and reminiscence programmes.


For further information and high res images, contact:

Rosemary Cronin, Project Manager: Engaging Young Learners

Ph: 020 7908 0881




Theresa Macaulay, Museum Manager Ph: 020 7908 0881




Registered Charity no: 1093538

Volunteer Profile: Avriel

Our team of brilliant volunteers work alongside staff to ensure the Museum runs smoothly. Now you can meet them! On the blog we hope to highlight the contribution that our valued volunteers make, and reveal a bit about the work they do here at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising!

Volunteer Profile: Avriel, Education Intern

Team Photo 02

  • Why did you decide to volunteer at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising?

I wanted to work with a museum learning department which had a clear vision yet could still grow. Many museum learning departments have a clear vision but a full program schedule, so there’s not much expanding happening. I wanted to help create programming which would benefit the museum (as well as myself) but wouldn’t be tossed after I left just because it was an exercise for me to learn how to make a learning pack.

  • What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising?

I really enjoy the environment. Everyone wants to help each other and I don’t feel like a nuisance. I really like that I can learn and do at the same time.

  • What have you learnt from your time volunteering here?

I’ve learned how to interact with the visitors as well as my co-workers. I’ve had little experience working in a museum and I did not interact with the visitors much as I mostly did office work.

  • What is your favorite object in the collection?

My favorite object is the R2-D2 from the Star Wars portion of the 1970s. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and he’s my favourite.

Manager’s Move Diary: Part 2

In March 2015 we won the bidding for the London Lighthouse in Notting Hill. In order to take over the new building, our sponsors had to sell the current location.

exterior museum

The Museum took possession of Lancaster Road on 26th June, we closed at Colville Road on 5th July and now have to be out by 31st July! This presents us with a significant challenge.

The Museum is an independent educational charity, we largely run on admissions and venue hire so a period of closure means none of our regular income streams.

Museum venue board room setup small file

We are fundraising for the move but it’s important that we keep the period of closure as short as possible. Many people we’ve spoken to from other Museums who’ve shared similar experiences have told varying stories on the stress and delays of a move. I don’t doubt we’ll face our fair share of challenges.

Museum 1970s tunnel

In our three months of closure we’re not only renovating the new premises, but we’re moving the 12,000 items in our current location and adding more to the displays.

We’re set to reopen in October and we hope to see you there.



Manager’s Move Diary: Part 1

Hello readers, I’m Theresa and I joined the Museum as the Manager in June 2013. I’ll be writing blog posts to share the story of our move from Colville Mews to Lancaster Road over the summer of 2015.


When I joined the Museum it was already looking for new premises. Its continued growth, since it opened at Colville Mews in December 2005, meant it had outgrown the current space.

Education exploring the Time Tunnel

Looking for a home for a Museum is no easy feat but with the hard work of our CEO and Development Director we discovered and secured the Terrence Higgins Trust’s London Lighthouse.


111-117 Lancaster Road was opened in 1988 as an AIDS hospital, and was run by the Terrence Higgins Trust. With strong support from Princess Diana and Elton John the hospital helped thousands of patients and their loved ones.


Over the last 10 years the building has provided space for a variety of hardworking and worthy charities to do their work, we hope to work with many of them in the future. The Museum aims to bring a new lease of life to the building and to the surrounding communities.

The beautiful garden will be maintained as a Memorial to all of those who lived, worked and loved there.


A Trip to The American Food Store

Today a few of us here at The Museum of Brands went for a trip down the road to The American Food Store, to admire the packaging (of course) and to do some research for an exciting new Learning activity!

Our fabulous Learning intern, Avriel, is from Atlanta and so acted as our guide to the treats on offer in the shop.

We were enticed by vast varieties of cereal…

American food

Weird and wonderful cake mix, blue velvet anyone?


And of course Confectionery galore!


When comparing American packaging with the equivalent British packaging, you notice slight differences in the logo, names of the products and the overall branding.

Did you know that British Milky Ways are called 3 Musketeers in America and American Milky Ways are British Mars Bars?! The mind boggles. Please leave a comment if you know any other brands with different names across the pond!

The American Food Store is definitely worth a visit, head to 2 Ladbroke Grove, London W11 3BG, come and see the Museum in the same trip!