Stuck Up: Britain’s Golden Era of Poster Art on display at the River & Rowing Museum

Opened by Christopher Rodrigues, Chairman of Visit Britain, a collection of 17 rare and striking transport posters depicting the golden age of travel - are being shown at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames until March 2013.

The exhibition, Stuck Up, brings together important posters produced by London Transport during the early 20th Century. All of the posters are linked to leisure on the Thames, including the University Boat Race. The collection – drawn from London Transport Museum and the River & Rowing Museum’s extensive archives – captures the design aesthetic of the era.

During the early 20th century there was a growth in interest in the River Thames as a leisure destination. Leisure pursuits such as punting, swimming, rowing and rambling increased in popularity with a general movement towards outdoor healthy living. London transport companies, keen to capitalise on this, used marketing campaigns to sell the Thames as a day out of the city at an affordable price. In the 1920s and 1930s, designing a poster for the Underground and London Transport became an honour among both great and aspiring artists.

Paris in the 1890s had seen the emergence of the modern graphic poster, which was taken up by artists including Toulouse-Lautrec, Chéret and Bonnard and revolutionised commercial advertising. It was a concept that quickly spread around Europe, including the UK.

In Britain, Frank Pick was the man associated with transforming the poster from a humble provider of information to an artwork in its own right. Pick became a publicity officer for London Underground in 1908. He initially used commercial artists to encourage the use of the London Underground but became dissatisfied with the quality of design and began inviting young artistic talent to produce the artwork instead. By the 1920s this approach had helped transform poster advertising in the UK. During the 1920s and 1930s, bold and striking poster designs appeared with artists drawing inspiration from avant-garde art movements such as Cubism and Futurism. The invitation to design these posters came to be seen as an honour for both established and emerging artists.

Frank Pick’s new approach to design and the choice of artists he worked with all helped create a golden age in advertising. In doing so they also brought movements such Cubism and Futurism to an enthusiastic public. The fun and frivolity of the posters continued until World War Two when the mood and focus of the nation changed.

The River & Rowing Museum is grateful for the generous loans from the London Transport Museum.

Christopher Rodrigues CBE Chairman – VisitBritain said:

“I was delighted to open this stunning exhibition, featuring works from London Transport Museum’s amazing collection.  Following on from Britain’s extraordinary success this summer, it is fascinating to be reminded how important tourism has been to our economy for over a century.  The beautiful posters recall a bygone era of gentle charm and outdoor pursuits”

Suzie Tilbury, curator of the exhibition said:

“This collection of rare posters represents a fantastic period in time for British design and the River & Rowing Museum is proud to be able to tell their story. Seeing all the posters alongside one another in this way paints a vibrant picture of Britain in the early 20th Century.”

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Notes to Editors

RRM’s collection of 1920s/30s London Transport Posters with additional examples borrowed from London Transport Museum. Ephemeral material from RRM’s collection (e.g. guide books, illustrated maps etc.) will support the poster collections.

Press Contacts

Jack Hickmott, Kallaway: 0207 221 7883 

Catherine Yoxall, River & Rowing Museum: 01491 415642

River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1BF.

Follow River & Rowing Museum on Twitter: @river_rowing

About The River & Rowing Museum:

The River & Rowing Museum is one of the UK's leading regional and sporting museums, attracting over 115,000 visitors a year. The Museum, an independent charity, also has a purpose built education centre visited by over 20,000 children and adults a year. The Museum provides superb value for money - tickets are £8 for adults and £6 for children and provide free access for a year. 

Designed by David Chipperfield and located on the banks of the River Thames in Henley on Thames, the Museum celebrates and explores four core themes through a wide variety of exhibitions and events across four galleries and special exhibitions:

  1. Rivers: Using the Thames as a starting point, the Museum explores the environmental, ecological and social impacts of water and rivers across the world.
  2. Henley on Thames: This historic town, home to the Henley Royal Regatta and host to the Rowing competition in the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games, has a colourful history dating back to the stone age, all captured in a dedicated gallery explored through hugely popular temporary exhibitions.
  3. The international sport of rowing: One of the world’s most significant collections of rowing memorabilia, charting the sport from ancient beginnings to present day, is held at the Museum. The sport is also celebrated through temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
  4. The Wind in the Willows: popular with children and families, this exhibition recreates the timeless E H Shepard illustrations from Kenneth Grahame's famous novel, taking visitors on a journey through the world famous riverside tale of Mr Toad and his friends.

Since opening in August 1998 the Museum has received numerous awards including the National Heritage/NPI Museum of the Year award and the Sandford Award For Heritage Education.

Location, opening and ticket information

  • The River & Rowing Museum, Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1BF. Tel. 01491 415600.
  • The Museum, terrace café and shop are open every day from 10am - 5.30pm in summer and 10am - 5pm in the winter
  • Tickets give FREE admission for a whole year!
  • Admission is just £8 for adults, £6 for children aged four and over, FREE for children under 4 and £6 for senior citizens and concessions
  • Free parking for visitors
  • Members of the British Armed Forces and their families receive discounted tickets.
  • The River & Rowing Museum is part of the Thames Valley Museums Group (TVMG) Family Friendly initiative - a scheme that brings together 29 Museums across Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, to promote their popular appeal to the whole family
  • Signatory to the Kids in Museums Manifesto
  • Art Fund members are entitled to free admission