I took a bit of time out and enjoyed some of the more touristy attractions in London. I have worked for almost 11 years in the West End and Covent Garden area, yet had yet to attend the London Transport Museum. When I first came down to London I marveled at the engineering effort that must have been put into rolling out the tube system. Whilst it has many faults the scope and scale of the tube network is still extremely impressive.
The museum takes the story from the first horse-drawn omnibus through to speculation (in association with the raft of sponsors including Orange and Toyota) about what the future of transport will look like in London. I found it personally fascinating to look at the tram, trolley bus and bus designs. Ironically some of the older machines were very design forward with a retro-futuristic style.
The museum takes us beyond the vehicles to the socio-economic impact of the tube lines such as ‘Metro Land‘. Those people who have young children are well catered for with a play area on the ground floor and an education area on the first floor. There is lots of things (particularly on the ground floor) to distract the visitor so the museum directs people through a mix of signage and a tactic that they have borrowed from orienteering.
Every visitor is issues with a card, this doubles as a map and a way to collect stamps from 13 way points around the museum. With the exception of way point 1 all the stamps are die-cut shapes which represent the area of the exhibition near the way point. It becomes quite addictive as way points 5 – 13 can be a bit tricky to find. I think this is a really neat idea that other museums, particularly those with a disjointed layout (like the V&A) may want to copy.