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Past exhibitions

The Poster Prize for Illustration 2019: London Stories

8 February 2019 - 14 July 2019

Across the ages, London has produced and inspired countless stories. Fictitious or real characters and events in this amazing city have always held a fascination, from the anecdotal urban myth to grand tales of historic legend – from the everyday to the curious, and from the past to the present. The Poster Prize for Illustration competition 2019 was made up of art that is colourful, inspiring and celebrates the vibrant, multi-layered city that is London.

Artists were invited to respond to the theme of London Stories and create an illustration that visually captures a well-known or obscure London narrative; stories that are contemporary or historical, real or imagined. Over 1,500 illustrations were submitted by professional artists and students worldwide. Eliza Southwood won the Gold prize with her poster London is the Place for Me; Anna Steinberg was second with her poster The Cokeney; and Mobb came in third place with his poster The faceless woman. The winner of the public vote was Chloe Isteed's Mind the Gap No. 78.

See some of the posters from the collection below:

London Stories was organised by the Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators (AOI)

secret life of a megaproject

Secret Life of a Megaproject

23 March 2018 - 22 April 2019

The Crossrail project is one of the largest civil engineering projects in Europe. Our Secret Life of a Megaproject gallery uncovered some lesser-known stories about the project and allowed visitors to discover more about how the tunnels and stations are being constructed, with never-before-seen video footage, interactive maps, and stories from the new generation of engineers building the Elizabeth line. 

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Poster girls

Poster Girls: A Century of Art and Design

13 October 2017 to 13 January 2019

Our powerful exhibition shined a spotlight on 20th and 21st century female graphic designers and revealed the contribution they made to poster design over the last 100 years.

With over 150 posters and original artworks on display, this exhibition recognised some forgotten design heroines and revealed the hidden stories behind their work. Poster Girls: A Century of Art and Design featured some of the leading female artists who have worked for London Transport and Transport for London including well-known designers, such as Mabel Lucie Attwell, Laura Knight, Enid Marx and Zandra Rhodes, alongside lesser known women who nonetheless changed the way Londoners viewed their city.

The works on display showcased a dazzling spectrum of artistic styles and mediums; modernist, figurative, flat colour, boldly patterned, abstract, collage and oil. Starting in the early 1900s, the exhibition moved through the decades to contemporary times, unearthing how each era influenced the artists’ stylistic approach and highlighting the role played by London Transport in commissioning female talent.

sounds of the city

Sounds of the City

19 May to 3 September 2017

Lyrics and languages, hubbub and stillness, heritage and science inspired 100 illustrators to produce a collection of striking artwork that reflected their relationship with sound in our diverse and multi-layered cities.

Themes included wildlife, nightlife, music, markets, transport and sport, with illustrations visually interpreting the sounds we hear about us day and night – from the common to the curious, to a recognisable street and cityscape through to visual soundscapes of buzzing colour.

The 100 works were chosen from over 2,000 competition entries for the prestigious Prize for Illustration. The Prize for Illustration is organised in partnership with The Association of Illustrators.

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Night Shift - London after Dark

11 September 2015 to 10 April 2016

When the sun sets and the moon rises over London, the city gradually takes on a character and the night shift begins. The introduction of gas and electric street lights at the end of the 19th century brought significant change to the night time streets of London and with it new opportunities for pleasure seekers and greater demands from night workers travelling to and from the city.

The Night Shift exhibition delved into the dark side of transport in London and explored the power of publicity and the world of the night shift over the last century. Eye-catching transport posters highlighted the rise of the West End and the growth of the leisure economy, whilst archive photographs and films documented the development of transport to meet the needs of Fleet Street and other night workers. Wartime Tube sheltering, the burgeoning nightclubbing scene and hard hitting safety campaigns brought the story up to date and cast new light on the contemporary 24 hour city.


The Prize for Illustration 2015: London Places & Spaces

15 May to 6 September 2015

The Prize for Illustration 2015: London Places & Spaces exhibition displayed 100 illustrations that captured a variety of aspects of London’s unique character and qualities. Together they showed a multi-layered metropolis and reflected the city’s distinct personality and communities; from grand scale architecture and famous landmarks to London’s secret spaces and places – used for commerce and work, leisure and living.

The works in the exhibition ranged from the contemplative to the crowded and loud, imaginary or real, and from the past to the present – all places that form part of this amazing city. Each of the illustrations was accompanied by a short description written by the artist revealing the inspiration behind their creation.

All the artworks were entries for the prestigious Prize for Illustration. The annual competition is open to illustrators and students of illustration throughout the world. The shortlist of 100 entries was selected from over 1,000 submissions by an expert panel of judges from the world of art and design.

London Places & Spaces was organised by the Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators (AOI). We were also proud media partner with Londonist.  

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Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front

16 May 2014 to 19 April 2015

This major exhibition revealed the untold story of London’s Home Front during the First World War; how drivers took their buses to the Front to support the war effort, how women advanced into the transport workforce for the first time and how Londoners came under deadly attack from the air as total war came to the Capital.

Goodbye Piccadilly commemorated and explored the contribution of London’s motor buses and their drivers to the First World War and the upheaval for Londoners on what became for the first time the ‘Home Front’.

Goodbye Piccadilly presented London Transport Museum’s unique perspective on the First World War, exploring how the conflict accelerated social change, how it impacted on the lives of Londoners and the essential role undertaken by bus service staff and buses in the war effort, both at home and abroad. It looked at the impact of aerial bombardment on life at home, as well as sheltering on the Tube and rationing – both of which were introduced for the first time. A key theme of the exhibition was to examine the lives of women who were employed on a large scale to do the jobs previously occupied by men, including working as bus conductors and mechanics on London buses and as porters and guards on the Underground.

The exhibition brought together objects from several collections for the first time, at the heart of which was ‘Ole’ Bill’, a 1911 B-type bus No. B43 on loan from the Imperial War Museum. It was one of over 1,000 B-type buses to be requisitioned by the War Department in 1914 for use on the Western Front. After the war it was refurbished as a permanent memorial to the role played by London buses in the First World War. Named after ‘Ole Bill’, Bruce Bairnsfather’s popular wartime cartoon character, it became a symbol of the military and civilian struggle endured by men and women of the London General Omnibus Company and it appeared regularly in the Armistice Day parades until the 1960s.

Other highlights included First World War recruitment posters, rarely seen propaganda posters specially designed to be displayed in army billets overseas as a reminder of home, and a 1914 female bus conductor’s uniform, six animations by University of the Arts Central Saint Martins students plus new poetry from SLAMbassadors UK offered creative interpretations about the impact of the war. A highlight of the display was a newly acquired piece of ‘trench art’ – a decorated Daimler bus steering wheel from the war - which gives visitors the chance to reflect on what it might have felt like to be a bus driver on the Western Front.

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The Serco Prize for Illustration 2014

14 February to 6 April 2014

Across the ages, London has produced and inspired countless stories. Fictitious and real characters and events in this amazing city have always held fascination, from anecdotal urban myths to grand tales of historic legend. London Stories, an exhibition featuring the best of the entries for The Serco Prize for Illustration 2014, featured 50 works of art based on this theme.

Entrants were asked to create an illustration which visually captured a well-known or obscure London narrative; stories that are contemporary or historical, real or imagined.

The shortlisted illustrations celebrated a vibrant, multi-layered London – urban myths, historic events, remarkable characters and London’s animal population. From ghost buses, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show of 1887 and Lenin’s ‘love letter to London’ to a Pearly King and Queen, and an escaped Monkey jazz band. Other entries depicted the ravens and the white bear of the Tower of London, Tin Pan Alley as well as literary and musical references such as The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Girl from PetrovkaMary PoppinsSweeney Todd and Oranges and Lemons. For the first time the exhibition featured five short animated films. From the rise and fall of high rise tower blocks, LDN Flying machine to the animated video about Our Town.

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BrightestLondon web

Poster Art 150: London Underground’s Greatest Designs

15 February 2013 to 5 January 2014

Supported by Siemens, this blockbuster exhibition showcased 150 of the greatest Underground posters ever produced, featuring works by many famous artists including Edward McKnight Kauffer and Paul Nash, and designs from every decade over the last 100 years.

The posters were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,300 Underground posters by a panel of experts; the 150 that appeared in the exhibition showcased the depth and diversity of the Museum’s collection. 

Since its first graphic poster commission in 1908, London Underground has developed a worldwide reputation for commissioning outstanding poster designs, becoming a pioneering patron of poster art - a legacy that continues today.

Poster Art 150 was a fitting exhibition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway, as the last major Underground poster retrospective was held in 1963 to celebrate the centenary of the Underground. Well-known posters, including the surrealist photographer Man Ray’s ‘Keeps London Going’ pair, featured alongside lesser-known gems.

The exhibition focussed on six themes:

  • Finding your way included Underground maps and etiquette posters. It also included posters carrying messages to reassure passengers by showing them what the Underground is like.
  • Brightest London celebrated nights out and sporting events, showing the brightest side of London.
  • Capital culture was about cultural encounters, be these at the zoo or galleries and museums.
  • Away from it all looked at the way London Underground used posters to encourage people to escape, to the country, the suburbs and enjoy other leisure pursuits.
  • Keeps London going featured posters about how the Underground has kept London on the move through its reliability, speed and improvements in technology.
  • Love your city showed the best of London’s landmarks as featured in Underground posters over the years.

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The Siemens Poster Vote

Visitors had the opportunity to vote for their favourite poster in the gallery and also online in The Siemens Poster Vote. The winner was Brightest London is best reached by Underground which was designed by Horace Taylor in 1924.


The Serco Prize for Illustration 2012 

13 November to 10 December 2012

Secret London, an exhibition of the best of the entries for The Serco Prize for Illustration, featured 50 works, each showing a hidden aspect of the city.

The illustrations have been chosen from entries submitted by professionals and students for the The Serco Prize for Illustration 2012 – a competition open to leading illustrators throughout the world.

Entrants were asked to create an illustration which depicted little known or unusual aspects of the capital’s history, culture, characters and communities – past or present.

The illustrations varied in media used and the subjects and ideas they interpreted. Some were place-specific, showing surprising and little-known aspects of the capital, including the last working Sewer Gas Lamp in Carting Lane, a Russian Orthodox Church in West London, and part of London’s forgotten riverscape. Others took a playful, humorous approach showing wildlife in the context of famous London icons – foxes commuting on the London Underground and a ‘pigeon disco’ inside Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

Alongside these were illustrations that captured the hustle and bustle of the capital, juxtaposed against others depicting calm and tranquil aspects of city life– a busy, multi-layered market scene, a solitary figure ascending the steps of Piccadilly Station and narrow boats on a canal.


The winners were announced by Richard Williams, Serco’s Managing Director of Transport, at an award ceremony on Monday 12 November. They were:

First place: Finn Clark, Temple Bar
Second Place: Christopher King, Pigeon Disco
Third Place: Guy Roberts, W4

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Mind the Map: Inspiring art, design and cartography

18 May to 28 October 2012

Mind the Map: Inspiring art, design and cartography drew on the Museum’s outstanding map collection to explore the themes of journeys, identity and publicity. The exhibition was the largest of its kind and included previously unseen historic material and exciting new artworks by leading artists including Simon Patterson, Stephen Walter, Susan Stockwell, Jeremy Wood, Claire Brewster, and Agnes Poitevin-Navarre.

The displays explored geographical, diagrammatic and decorative transport maps, as well as the influence of the iconic London Tube map on cartography, art and the public imagination. The Underground, London Transport, and its successor Transport for London, have produced outstanding maps for over 100 years. These have not only shaped the city, they have inspired the world. 

Looking in particular at the relationship between identity and place, Mind the Map explored the impact maps have had on our understanding of London and how they influence the way we navigate and engage with our surroundings.


Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move

1 July 2011 to 18 March 2012

Always on your smart phone, or still asking a policeman? Sense and the City: smart, connected and on the move, explored how emerging technologies are changing the way we access and experience London and compared this with past visions of the future.

Powerful new forces are shaping the way we live, work and travel in the city. GPS, electric vehicles, pervasive internet access, sensor data, short range wireless communication, reactive surfaces, augmented reality, open data, smart phones and a blizzard of new apps are combining to redefine the way we see and experience London. Sense and the City unravelled the digital future, illustrated the power of emerging applications and posed questions about mobility, society and work in the Capital over the next decade.

The exhibition opened with a striking futurist vision by artist Syd Meads (Bladerunner, Aliens, Tron) and a memorable selection of images showing past-future visions including those by architects Le Corbusier and Archigram as well as the failed and the frivolous such as a spiral escalator, winged buses and taxi airships. The centre of the space featured two real vehicles – the controversial Sinclair C5 and the Ryno - a self-balancing, one wheel, electric scooter.

The displays looked at the development of technology and its integration into the social, economic and political fabric of the city. The gradual convergence of devices which has led to smart phones, tablets and laptops and wireless networked devices is illustrated on a wall of retro technology including 1980s brick-sized mobile phones, Commodore computers and the earliest wireless devices.


The centrepiece of the exhibition was an interactive table with eight screens that allowed visitors to view a wealth of film, animations, data visualisations and images on subjects ranging from the cashless society and driverless cars to reactive buildings and augmented reality. Visitors were invited to give their views about whether the plethora of new digital information and opportunity for access is exciting, a huge worry or a total waste of time.

Accompanying the interactive table was the Visions of Tomorrow wall where some of tomorrow’s top designers - students currently studying at the Royal College of Art, presented their practical ideas showing today’s technology on tomorrow’s street and how we may move and communicate in 2020. Some of the amazing ideas include: London E-motion: an electrically powered scooter that expresses the driver’s feelings and mood. Using large, visible communication surfaces, the E-Motion could improve communication between all road users; and Augmented wayfinding: a social networking approach to signage which proposes to integrate touchscreens, augmented reality displays, dynamically updated content and social networks into the signage found on the streets of London.

Screens projected ground-breaking data visualisations from such eminent developers as Carlo Ratti of MIT, Aaron Koblin of Google Creative alongside modern work from students at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

The finale of Sense and the City was the Bus Stop of the Future provided by Clear Channel. As well as offering protection against the weather, it provides travel data in real time, suggests alternative routes, advertises products and services and links people to others in the neighbourhood.

Sense and the City was organised in partnership with Royal College of Art (RCA), and was supported by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Clear Channel and Native Design.


Sense the City 

21 January to 18 March 2012

Have you ever noticed what makes London a city that never stops, or stopped to take a picture of the elements of the city that help London thrive? Londonist, London’s website for news and culture, and London Transport Museum, invited Flickr users throughout November 2011 to submit photographs that captured the hustle and bustle of London, and the activity that helps make London flourish and thrive. 648 images were submitted and of these 50 were shortlisted for inclusion in Sense the City - the dynamic Flickr wall exhibition which was on display at the museum.

Commended Entries

Of the 50 shortlisted photographs, three were selected at the exhibition private view for special commendation by our advisers Clive Birch, Visiting Tutor on the Royal College of Art’s Vehicle Design Programme and Johanna Empson, Talks and Events Programmer at the Photographers Gallery. These were Tube Story by Danielle Houghton, Better to just ignore him... by Stephen Banks, and See Red by Geoff Holland.

To see these entries and find out the inspiration behind them from the photographers themselves visit the Museum Blog.



John Burningham: Journeys of the Imagination

9 September to 1 December 2011

London Transport Museum hosted a celebration of the work of one of Britain’s most successful and best loved illustrators - John Burningham. His career was kick-started with a poster commission from London Transport in 1960, although he later found fame as a celebrated children’s book author and illustrator. He has written over 60 illustrated books, for which he has received many honours including two Kate Greenaway medals.

The Museum’s celebratory events included a display of his travel posters, October family fun half term workshops, an ‘in conversation’ evening with John Burningham and a special book signing afternoon.

This special display brought together, for the first time, John’s rarely seen travel posters, commissioned in the 1960s for London Transport and the British Transport Commission.

Platform for Art Poster

The Serco Prize for Illustration 2011

10 May to 3 June 2011

The Serco Prize for Illustration competition was organised by London Transport Museum in partnership with the Association of Illustrators and made possible for the second year running by Serco. A selection of 50 of the shortlisted illustrations were displayed in a special exhibition.

The winner of The Serco Prize for Illustration 2011 was Anne Wilson, from Reading in Berkshire, who has illustrated a number of children’s books. Anne was one of over 400 artists who responded to the competition brief to submit images that feature the River Thames as an exciting and varied place for Londoners and visitors alike. Winding through the city shows the River Thames flowing through a mass of straight lines and structure, providing a graphic contrast to its manmade surroundings - splitting the city through its middle and yet holding it firmly together. The illustration was reproduced as a poster and appeared on Transport for London services.

Winding through the City, Anne Wilson, 2011

The Serco Prize for Illustration and the exhibition continue Transport for London’s legacy of design that dates back over 100 years. The Museum’s collection of graphic art is one of the best in the world and includes over 5,000 posters and artworks by famous artists including Man Ray, Paul Nash and Edward McKnight Kauffer.

Melvyn Evans, from Sevenoaks in Kent won the silver prize of £1,000 for Thames People and Tides, which showed bustling activity on and along the River Thames. Melvyn has worked on many projects for publishers and advertisers, and most recently on a commission from Channel 4. Liz Rowland, who studied at University College Falmouth, Cornwall won the bronze prize of £750 for London Banquet, which portrayed the River Thames as the centre piece of London.

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Bus Shelters Poster Art Exhibition

3 May to 3 June 2011

Bus Shelters was a youth participation programme delivered by London Transport Museum as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

Between February 2010 and March 2011, the Museum worked with five groups of young people from across London to explore the theme of journeys. Using the Museum’s collections as inspiration each group collaborated with professional artists including filmmakers, illustrators and lyricists. They created artwork that reflected their interests, ideas and opinions about journeys and what travelling around London means to them.

Using poster art, innovative Bluetooth technology and glass panel displays the outcomes of each project were installed in a bus shelter local to the communities of each group.

This exhibition brought together the poster art and films of all five bus shelter projects for the very first time.

Overground Uncovered

29 May 2010 to 31 March 2011

Overground Uncovered: life along the line, celebrated the new London Overground line - London's first major public transport development for over ten years. The exhibition explored over 160 years of history and innovation behind the building of the new line and Brunel's Thames Tunnel, and provided a snapshot of cultural highlights along the way.

The exhibition was presented in three galleries, Connecting Communities, The Thames Tunnel and A new train set for London.

Connecting Communities 

The new line runs along some of the oldest and most fascinating areas of London. Using photographs, posters from the Museum's collection of iconic graphic art, and objects from the past, this gallery highlighted local curiosities, and juxtaposes the old with the new to give a lively introduction to the history and attractions of the areas along the line.

The Thames Tunnel 

The epic story of the building of the Thames Tunnel between 1825 and 1843 by the famous 19th century engineer Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and its subsequent but short-lived life as a major tourist attraction was told in this gallery. 

A new train set for London 

The science behind the new technology of the London Overground is made simple with time lapse video footage showing the construction of the new trains, John Sturrock's striking photography - which documents the development of the line, and time lapse photography showing the construction of the new bridge at Shoreditch. Sat alongside a graphic representation of the orbital railway, the Top Trumps exhibit compared the features of the new trains with the old steam locomotives of the 1870s, whilst The Regeneration Game explained the green technology behind the innovative and energy efficient regenerative braking system.


Under Attack: London, Coventry, Dresden

7 September 2010 to 31 March 2011

The aerial bombing raids, known in Britain as the Blitz, defined the wartime experience of many European cities. This exhibition told the story from the perspective of public transport in London, Coventry and Dresden, and illustrated the struggle to keep these cities moving during the Second World War.

The exhibition was developed in partnership with Coventry Transport Museum and the Verkehrsmuseum Dresden, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the Blitz in England and the 65th anniversary of the Dresden bombing.

The exhibition focussed on the role that public transport played in helping to create a sense of identity and normality. In particular, it seeked to explore the areas of commonality, as well as difference, and convey the shared experience of people from all walks of life - irrespective of nationality.

The exhibition explored some of the myths and reality of the wartime experience and reviewed the changing nature of popular memory in relation to the Blitz attacks in England and the Firestorm in Dresden. A series of unique displays showed how each city prepared for war and the contrasting role of their transport systems. In London and Coventry, public transport was used to evacuate children and others out of the city, whilst in Dresden, the city itself was regarded as a shelter with transport bringing refugees into the centre.

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Brighten up your home with our selection of stunning vintage transport posters. Choose from over 5,000 designs like these cute penguins designed by Charles Paine in 1920.

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