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!
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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
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
- 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.
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…
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!
On Friday 17th May, as part of Museums at Night, we held a Mad Men themed Friday Late night opening here at the Museum.
As fans of the show will know, Mad Men showcases the personal and professional lives of 1960s advertising executives in New York City.
A show set in the swinging sixties about advertising was an obvious choice for a themed event at the Museum, fitting perfectly with our new series of Friday Late Evenings.
In a happy coincidence Museums at Night this year just happened to coincide with the finale of the show!
Fate called and we happily embraced the theme.
The event was a roaring success. Everyone was dressed to impress, with most enjoying a few touch ups from the fabulous Lipstick & Curls. Whilst the lovely ladies at Lindy Bop tempted our guests with a rail of vintage inspired dresses.
An evening highlight was definitely the amazing sound of the Hey Las, the Doo Wop trio blew everyone away with two sets of Mad Men inspired songs. They also looked incredible with authentic vintage dresses and carefully choreographed routines.
Some of our guests were members of swing dancing societies that took the opportunity to show off their era appropriate skills!
All our guests seemed to have a brilliant evening, and so did we! It has definitely inspired us to think about other lates with a decade theme here in the future. Especially if it means more marvellous dressing up…
Here are a few more images from the evening:
Hello world! Welcome to the first post on the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising’s Blog.
The Museum is a charity dedicated to educating the public on design, advertising and packaging though 12,000 original items from the Robert Opie Collection.
We first opened in Gloucester in 1984, moved to London in 2005, and the Museum has since become a top 10 London attraction!
To keep up with this ever expanding growth we are now moving to a much larger location on Lancaster Road.
This blog will be our way of keeping in touch with visitors whilst we are closed over the summer months, and continue when we re-open as a platform for us to share with you all of the interesting goings on here.
We are very excited to have entered the blogosphere just in time to document this exciting period for the Museum!