Celebrating 50 years: From a Packet of Munchies to the Museum of Brands

26th August 2013

For the Beatles, train robbers and Dr Who, 1963 was a memorable year. After buying a packet of Munchies on September 8th 1963, 16 year old schoolboy Robert Opie had a moment of inspiration when he realised the things we throw away reflect the world in which we live.

Robert Opie

Since preserving that single Munchies wrapper, Robert has assembled over 500,000 items that tells the remarkable story of our consumer culture -12,000 of which are displayed in the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill. Visit the Museum as we celebrate 50 years of Robert’s collecting with a new exhibition, DVD and talk on our ‘Throwaway History’.

Robert’s new feature length DVD ‘In search of our Throwaway History’, launched in September 2013, has been three years in the making. The DVD – like the Museum itself – evokes emotional childhood memories, whilst giving insight into how and why branded products have changed the way we live. A new exhibition in the Museum accompanies the DVD.

Robert will be in the Museum on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th of September to talk to visitors and answer questions on his monumental fifty years of collecting. The Museum is also hosting a ‘Throwaway History’ talk by Robert on 25th September.

In September 1963, Robert Opie realised no purposeful record was being kept of our everyday consumer history and began to keep a record of objects normally discarded; sweet wrappers, cereal boxes, coffee jars, yoghurt cartons and soap powder packs that represented a way of living.

By 1975 Robert’s collection contained enough material to hold a major exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum, ‘The Pack Age: a century of wrapping it up’. Following that success, Robert opened Britain’s first museum devoted to the history of advertising and packaging in Gloucester in 1984. Now known as the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, it moved to its current Notting Hill location in 2005 and is now voted in London’s top ten Museums on Trip Advisor.

Consumer historian Robert Opie has compiled over twenty books, including the Scrapbook series covering each decade from the Victorians to the 1970s. Countless articles have been written on his work and he has shared his tireless enthusiasm for the subject in nearly 400 television appearances and over 1000 radio interviews.