A Different Side of London: The Supermarkets, Circa 1800

Another week down, and I can’t imagine ever leaving. I love it here in London, and I love all of my classes. I think my favorite thing about classes abroad so far is the emphasis on field trips and actually seeing what we’re learning in action in London–outside of the classroom walls.

For example, last week I visited the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising with my British and European Marketing Strategy class.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising

Visiting the Museum of Brands was a really interesting concept for our field trip because we were able to see, with our fresh American eyes, the differences between British packaging and advertisements and our own–which also allowed us to learn about British culture and history through the lens of advertisements (and, as advertising students, we naturally loved that).

Many of Notting Hill’s buildings feature unique pastel façades.

The museum is located in the beautiful Notting Hill area. We took the Tube from South Kensington to Ladbroke Grove, and we walked about a half a mile through Easter-egg colored houses and neighborhoods. The museum itself is located just off of the main road, near daily markets, sidewalk cafes, and neighborhood pubs.

The museum’s aim is to “examine the history of consumer culture from Victorian times to the present day.” All of the artifacts that it owns, going back to the 1800s, are from the private collection of Robert Opie.

Walking into the museum, you become immediately overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of products that he kept. Personally, I can’t understand any desire to keep old laundry detergents boxes around, but I’m really glad that he did. It was a fun exercise to see the evolution of colors, fonts, and models featured on product packaging, and to see how product packaging can be representative of the culture and times from which they were made.

Opie’s collection is displayed in a “time tunnel,” which is essentially a winding corridor filled with floor-to-ceiling display cases of old products. The tunnel begins with Victorian era products, like cigarette cartons and newspaper clippings, and continues up to present day products, like yogurt bottles and Ritz crackers. Visitors get to travel back through time, and when they begin to recognize ’90s– and ’00s–era products, the nostalgia is real.

While I loved seeing all of the old products and packaging, my favorite part of the museum was the special exhibition, which commemorated 50 years of publishing Time Out magazine.

Time Out, which was once a print magazine, is now a website that catalogues the best spots to eat, drink, and visit in every major city around the world. With all of my weekend trips planned and so much to choose from in London, I have consulted Time Out’s rankings too many times to count.

If you’re ever in need of a restaurant recommendation, Time Out’s recommendations won’t disappoint…and neither will the Museum of Brands.


Amelia Henning, Study Abroad Correspondent

Amelia Henning is a senior in COM majoring in advertising, double minoring in art history and visual arts. She is currently studying abroad in London, and she spends her free time abroad on the hunt for London’s best chicken tikka masala.

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