Ring sideshow

After weeks of fanfare in the capital regarding transport, the revamped London Transport Museum has finally arrived. The story of London Transport is inextricably a story of design. From the foundation-laying golden age of former LT chief Frank Pick in the 1930s to the architectural success of stations on the Jubilee Line extension in the 1990s, Transport for London is sitting pretty on a rich supply of public service design achievements. It’s no surprise, then, that when the museum reopens this week it will present a gallery dedicated to its design heritage, pictured here. With exhibition design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and video content created by ISO, this is a big step forward, since the majority of the design collection could not be safely displayed in the old museum environment. But, from a curatorial perspective, TfL risks being fettered by its own high-profile portfolio, with designers and the general public alike now well-versed in the imaginative clout of Harry Beck’s Underground map, the LT roundel and the Routemaster bus, to name just a few highlights. A few extra tasty morsels needed adding to the major themes to keep us interested, says the gallery’s curator David Worthington, so alongside the original posters – not prints – will be designers’ developmental artwork, while a display on leaflet design includes a row of publications spanning 1900 to 2000. Worthington has also chosen to celebrate the original construction of the Victoria Line – an unsung hero of a project directed by Sir Misha Black in the 1960s – which he believes represented the ‘first consistent and co-ordinated piece of design work’ following the much-lauded days of Pick.


London Transport Museum, Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2, reopens on 22 November

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