Underground Art At The London Transport Museum


The art that has graced the walls of the London Underground since it’s early beginnings has become recognisable the world over. The tunnels, stations and stairwells have been a showcase for poster art for generations, and even today the underground is still a supporter of poster artists. From 15th February through until the 27th October 2012 the London Transport Museum is hosting an incredible exhibition entitled Poster Art 150. The first poster art for the Underground was commissioned in 1908 and since then the underground has showcased the work of generations of poster artists.

Photo by Elizabeth Hudy
Photo by Elizabeth Hudy

The Exhibition

One hundred and fifty of the best designs that were ever produced for the underground will be on display, all part of the one hundred and fifty years birthday celebrations for the underground system this year. The work of many famous artists will be celebrated including that of Edward McKnight Kauffer. The exhibition will feature designs from every single decade of the past one hundred years. All of the images that are on display have been specially selected from the vast archives owned by the London Transport Museum, with almost three and a half thousand different posters to choose from, you can be sure that the very best will be on display, as selected by a highly qualified expert panel. The one hundred and fifty posters that are on display in total will offer some idea of the diversity and range of the collection they hold. There has not been another exhibition of this kind on display since 1963, when the underground celebrated its centenary.

Exhibition Themes

The Exhibition has been split between six themes, all of which take in a different aspect of the underground and the city which it serves.

  • Finding Your Way: This section includes some iconic maps and underground etiquette posters. It also includes posters that were designed to display messages of reassurance to the travellers that were starting to use the system, giving them some idea of what the experience would be like.
  • Brightest London: These are the posters that were designed to show the lighter and brighter side of the city, from the sporting events that were held here to the colourful and vibrant nightlife that the city was famous for.
  • Capital Culture: Posters that highlight the city attractions such as the many museums and galleries as well as the city zoo.
  • Away From It All: In this section the focus is on all of the posters that invited people to take a trip away from the city, to head out into the country and enjoy a break.
  • Keeps London Going: These are the section where the Underground was using its posters to promote itself. Highlighting the reliability and speed of the service, as well as the new technology that was being implemented.
  • Love Your City: These are the posters that illustrate some of the most recognisable landmarks in the city, and shows how the presentation of these iconic landmarks has changed over the decades.

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