The ticket sellers at Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising were so eager for me to like it that I hate to say anything negative. But the fact is, I didn’t care for MBP&A for several reasons. First of all, it was a bit hard to find at 2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Road, and a fairly long walk from the nearest tube stop, Notting Hill Gate.
An apparent hoarder named Robert Opie began collecting indiscriminately in 1963. He was 16 at the time. His first of 12,000 saved items was a Munchies wrapper. Imagine what your living space would be like if you kept every candy wrapper and food packaging item for many, many years. Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising displays all 12,000 of Robert’s obsessively acquired treasures and more, but no photography was allowed so you’ll have to imagine what boxes of Scot’s Porage Oats and Bird’s Custard Powder look like. Beginning with items from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, crammed displays snake down aisle after aisle. If you’re just longing to see Edward’s Desiccated Soup containers, old radios, Barbie accessories, marmalade jars, Kellogg’s cereal boxes from ages ago, and Cadbury wrappers, this is your kind of attraction.
It’s not mine. But I must admit that a couple of small groups of ladies who have been around long enough to have used, say, Rinso and Oxydol seemed to be enjoying their trip down memory alley where the dumpster was never used. Because I haven’t lived in England, I didn’t recognize many of the products.
There were displays about changing shopping habits, packaging with less for our sustainable future, etc. to counterbalance the collection. Ruth was so turned off by what Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising calls “a kaleidoscope of images” that she remained in the refreshment/gift shop area and missed the Diana Spencer memorabilia, The Story of Biscuits (cookies) sponsored by McVitie’s, etc.
We dropped into another attraction recommended by Aussie Steve McKenna, Whitechapel Gallery at 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, and were out in 15 minutes. He called this museum that was redone in 2009 a “cultural beacon”. And maybe he saw some dynamite, contemporary art. What Ruth and I saw was mostly young Londoners wandering from room to room trying to relate to and appreciate stuff that made me cringe or snicker. In a now closed show called The Spirit of Utopia, several twenty-somethings were busily making traditional bricks and beginners’ pottery to, I assume, feel involved and creative. As I moved from gallery to gallery, I was mostly recalling a children’s tale by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.