Explore the London Transport Museum in the heart of Covent Garden. The Museum uncovers the story of London and its transport system over the last 200 years, highlighting the powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London, culture, and society since 1800.
Transport has shaped London’s unique identity. From 19th century horse-drawn buses through to the world’s first underground railway, early red double-decker buses, and the creation of famous designs such as the Tube roundel logo and Underground map.
Explore the heritage of London, its transport system, and the stories of the people who have travelled and worked in the city over the last 200 years before taking a peek into how future technologies might impact London as we know it.
Museum Opening Times: Daily, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Last admission 5:00 pm Closed 24-26 December
London Transport Museum 39 Wellington Street London WC2E 7BB
NEW: GLOBAL POSTER GALLERY (opens 20th October 2023)
Explore our poster collection in our first permanent gallery dedicated to commercial poster art and design. For the first time, artworks and designs from our world-class collection of over 30,000 advertising posters will be displayed in a dedicated gallery alongside loans from other significant collections. When Frank Pick, the first Chief Executive of London Transport, first took charge of the Underground’s publicity in 1908, he revolutionised poster design.
Driven by his belief that good design enriches life, Pick injected new life into a previously conservative, text-based medium by commissioning pictorial posters. Eye-catching designs soon enticed prospective travellers by focusing on the destination rather than the mode of travel. Imagery never seen before on the Tube let commuters know that a trip to the theatre, zoo or countryside was all within their reach. Seeing this success, other commercial organisations soon followed suit.
Pick believed that ‘there is room in posters for all styles’, and in the 1920s, he began to commission more adventurous posters. He went on to work with graphic designers influenced by radical and avant-garde art movements, such as futurism, cubism, and surrealism, conveying the modernity of the Underground. Many of the posters in this period had a strong Art Deco flavour. Over three decades, Pick cultivated an extensive network of talented artists and designers.
This legacy established London Transport as a leading arts patron and brought the capital’s transport system critical and international acclaim for its graphic art and design. Entry to the Global Poster Gallery is included with Museum admission.
EXHIBITION: Legacies: London Transport’s Caribbean Workforce
Celebrate Caribbean people's contribution to transport in London and British culture more widely at our new exhibition, Legacies: London Transport’s Caribbean Workforce, now open at the Museum.
Explore the struggles and triumphs many of these individuals and their families experienced as they moved halfway across the world from the Caribbean to the UK. Stories include memories from first, second and third-generation Caribbean people who worked for London Transport (LT) or still work for Transport for London (TfL).
The exhibition also focuses on Caribbean culture's influence on the Capital and beyond. From iconic events such as Notting Hill Carnival to the development of the large-scale artwork for TfL’s Art on the Underground programme at Brixton Tube station, this exhibition acknowledges the positive impact Caribbean communities have had on the UK, inspiring the visual arts and influencing the way we live, work and play.
LONDON BY DESIGN
London’s transport design is synonymous with London itself. Its classic designs have become familiar images which have been admired and imitated worldwide. Since 1908 TfL and its predecessors have pushed the aim of a bespoke, uniform, and coherent fully designed environment.
London by Design celebrates the key design moments in London’s transport design heritage. Some of London’s most well-known and best-loved designs are from the ‘golden age’ of transport design, which is still celebrated today, and the design philosophy of the time still has an influence on major transport projects today.
WORLD'S FIRST UNDERGROUND
In 1860, work began on the first attempt to solve the problem: the world’s first underground railway. The Metropolitan Railway was designed to link three of London’s main line termini with the City.
The early underground was a huge engineering achievement and very well used, but had one big disadvantage: its steam locomotives created a permanent fug in the stations and tunnels. The only surviving steam engine from the 1860s, Metropolitan number 23, is on display in the Museum.
LONDON'S TRANSPORT AT WAR
London’s transport was hugely important during both the First and Second World Wars. From London buses being repurposed for military use during the First World War to transport troops and materials to the front line to Underground stations being used for sheltering during the Second World War, there are many inspiring and harrowing stories to tell.