As you might have discerned from my earlier blogs, I’m a big fan of nostalgia. While I love history, museums and reading biographical texts, I class nostalgia as a different animal entirely. Nostalgia is a feeling when you see a “wireless” radio, or a “My Goodness My Guinness” poster – when something isn’t just from the past, but of the past. Staying at one of our Kensington hotels? In London, you’re always within walking distance of true nostalgia. If you get misty eyed over trivial relics from our history, then like me, you’ll love visiting the Kensington Museum of Brands.
Located in Notting Hill, the Museum of Brands features over 12,000 original items from the Roger Opie Collection. The Museum of Brands paints an elaborate picture of consumer life from the Victorian era, throughout war times and finishes with present day.
I love going to the Museum of Brands to watch the history of consumer culture reveal itself. At the dawn of the 20th century, suddenly mass consumer goods were available to everyone. Although this concept started in the United States, it wasn’t long until Britain caught on. Consumerism became an incredible equalizer of society. As Andy Warhol once said:
“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”
Shopping was a revolutionary concept as, for the first time, people had expendable income to spend on cheap expendable items: candy, magazines and lipsticks all became fair game for a new profession – advertising. Through advertising, you can even trace women’s liberation as wives started juggling work and home life – hence the emphasis in the 50’s and 60’s on products that made housework more efficient.
If you want to learn something about the brands and advertising that goes beyond an episode of Mad Men, pay the Museum of Brands a visit. If you’re planning a stay in one of our Kensington hotels in London, I can’t recommend this spot enough!
2 Colville Mews, Lonsdale Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2AR, England