The chosen objects/themes

The Pleasure Garden (1740 - 18940)

The Pleasure Gardens 1740-1894 © Musuem of LondonAs the capital became more built-up, Londoners sought out open spaces. In the summer evenings, the new pleasure gardens became very popular. For a small fee, visitors entered enclosed grounds with tree-lined walks, fountains and outdoor lighting. In the pleasure gardens, lords and ladies rubbed shoulders with merchants, shopkeepers and prostitutes.

This dramatic re-creation of a Georgian pleasure garden is an immersive, theatrical space. It includes mannequins in original costume adorned with magnificent Philip Treacy hats and metal wigs designed by artist Yasemen Hussein, real trees, special lighting, and costumed replica figures. A film recreates the drama of the gardens as people arrive to meet friends, have supper, listen to music, watch acrobats and enjoy the fireworks. The pleasure gardens were a new public space in London and were copied in cities and towns around the world. (Museum of London)

Wellclose Square prison cell, 1750

Wellclose Prison Cell, 1750 © Museum of London

London was a place of opportunity and potential social mobility but fortunes were both lost and won. If you fell into debt, prison beckoned and thieves could be transported or even executed.

Wellclose Prison, also known as Neptune Street Prison, was located off Wellclose Square near the Tower of London. The small prison was beneath a public house called the Cock and Neptune. The tavern was connected to a courthouse for which the pub's landlord acted as gaoler. The majority of inmates were insolvent debtors and they have scratched words and images onto the wooden walls of the cell. For the first time, due to protective glass screens, visitors are able to walk into the cell for an atmospheric experience and see the actual marks left by the prisoners. (Museum of London)


Charles Booth’s Map Descriptive of London Poverty, and Map Key 1889 - 1891

An interactive map highlighting the state of London’s poor in the 19th century.

Charles Booth’s Map Descriptive of London Poverty, 1889 - 1891 © Museum of LondonCharles Booth’s survey was an ambitious attempt to assess the scale of poverty in London. Whereas artists and writers painted emotionally charged pictures of the poor, Booth wanted to map poverty scientifically. The map provides an extraordinary snapshot of London at the end of the 19th century and reveals how up to one third of Londoners lived in poverty with rich and poor living in separate areas. The Booth Map display also includes an immersive interactive in the new galleries - visitors will be able to explore a number of areas surveyed by Booth.

The researchers assessed the social character of every street in London. A ‘rough’ working-class area was defined as one with open doors, broken windows, prostitutes, thieves and ‘a row always going on between warlike mothers’. Flowerpots, lace curtains, scrubbed doorsteps and hanging birdcages were the hallmarks of a respectable neighbourhood. The researchers colour coded each street according to these observations; eight colours were used to identify eight social classes. Black represented the semi-criminal lowest class, pink were fairly comfortable, ordinary earners and yellow were the wealthy upper-middle and upper classes. (Museum of London)

Taxi, 1908

Taxi, 1908 © Meena Julien

One of London’s earliest motorised taxis.The first petrol driven taxi appeared on London’s streets in 1903, a sign that the old days of horse drawn cabs were numbered. Motor vehicles changed the look, sound and smell of London’s streets. (Museum of London)


Families at Trafalgar Square, Harold Dearden, late 1950s

This painting shows two families from the Commonwealth at the heart of the British capital. Why the pictures were painted is not known but they may reflect the debate about Commonwealth migration, which began in the 1950s. (Museum of London)


Families at Trafalgar Square,, Harold Dearden, late 1950s © Meena Julien

Suitcase, late 1960s

Suitcase, late 1960s © Meena Julien


This suitcase belonged to Yasar Ismailoglu, a Turkish Cypriot who arrived in London on 1st January 1972. The suitcase meant a lot to him, “I cried on it when I was in desperation and I enjoyed it when I was going to see my family with a lot of chocolate in it.” (Museum of London)


The Brixton Riots 1981,  Mike Hawthorn (born 1954) 1987



This powerful drawing is an eye witness account of the rioting in Brixton over the weekend of 11th – 13th April 1981. Mike Hawthorne was in Brixton on the Saturday night and began work on a series of drawings as soon as he got home. This drawing, completed in 1987, is based on his original 1981 sketches. (Museum of London).

The Brixton Riots (detail), © Museum of London

The Cityman 900 mobile phone, 1987

The Cityman 900 mobile phone, 1987 © Musuem of London The Cityman 900 mobile phone was launched in 1987 by Finnish company Nokia-Mobira. Although not the first portable phone, it was the world’s first hand-held and set new standards for lightness. As its name suggests, early mobile phones were associated with the business world. This model was nicknamed 'the Gorba' after Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was photographed using one. Nokia’s 'Cityman 900' phone set new standards for lightness but was rapidly overtaken by smaller models. (Museum of London)


History Painting, John Bartlett, 1993 — 1994


This painting is a dramatic view of the Poll Tax Riot, which took place in Trafalgar Square on Saturday 31 March 1990. The riot broke out during a demonstration against a tax that provoked great anger for its failure to take account of differences between rich and poor. Bartlett was born in Stepney and studied at the Byam Shaw and Royal Academy schools. He now works as a security attendant at the National Gallery and says 'London and Essex have been in my blood since the day I first breathed.' (Museum of London)

History Painting, John Bartlett, 1993-1994 © Museum of London

The Ghetto, Tom Hunter and James McKinnon, 1994

The Ghetto, Tom Hunter, 1994 © Museum of London

This art work reveals the harsh realities of London life as it uncovers a Hackney street of the 1990s populated with squatters.

Tom Hunter produced this cardboard sculpture for his degree show at London College of Printing. It is an extraordinary recreation of two streets in Hackney that were lived in long-term by squatters who suddenly faced eviction. Hunter photographed the buildings and when you look through the windows of the cardboard houses, his photography illustrates the interior.

The Museum was the first to acquire his work, buying this piece from his degree show, and it is going on permanent display for the first time in a brand new £40,000.


EnTWINed, the Singh Twins, 2009

EnTWINed by the Singh Twins, 2009 © Museum of London

'EnTWINed' was commissioned in December 2008. The idea for the commission came about in 2004, when the Museum acquired two paintings by Henry Nelson O’Neil, ‘Eastward Ho!’ and ‘Home Again’. The se canvases, painted in 1857 and 1858, show British soldiers embarking for the First Indian War of Independence and then disembarking after completing their tour of duty.

The Singh Twins have created an extraordinary and eclectic mix of the historical and the contemporary, the serious and the ephemeral. Taking the composition of the O’Neils as their point of departure, the Twins have used the idea of disembarkation to develop an image which touches upon the Indian diaspora throughout the British Isles. (Museum of London)

Missing objects?


One of the young participants decided to focus her film on what she  felt was missing in the museum - womens gay rights; the slave trade - as well as what touched her most.




Suffragette hunger strikers banner, 1910 © Museum of London
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