Where to see the Shell Heritage Art Collection

Poster exhibition at Dansk Plakatmuseum Aarhus, Denmark
North Hertfordshire Museum - Shell Discovering Britain exhibition 2018
Upton House Exhibition 2018. 1930s Shell Poster behind costumes from the era
North Hertfordshire Exhibition 2018. Discover Britain posters
Mottisfont exhibition 2017. Three Shell Educational Wall Charts, Counties of Britain
Mottisfont Exhibition 2017. Display of Shell oil and petrol cans.


The Art of Advertising: 100 Years of the Shell poster

UPDATE: 07/07/2020 Our venues for this touring exhibition are currently closed and dates for the 100 year anniversary exhibitions have been postponed. Please check back for updates.

This unique centenary exhibition will celebrate the Shell Lorry Bill through the display of 100 Lorry Bills from the Collection, alongside original paintings, film and memorabilia, and digital online content. The exhibition will focus on the Golden Age of the poster, during the interwar years, and is co-ordinated by theme to encapsulate the illustrious breadth of the Lorry Bills. It considers the impact that the Lorry Bills have had upon the history of British commercial posters and reflects how people interact with and interpret the Lorry Bills today.

We wanted you, our audience, to choose your favourite poster to be included in the exhibition. Throughout 2019 we ran  a series of polls on social media asking you to vote for your favourite posters within themes.

The first selections were for the theme of ‘People Prefer’, a very popular campaign that ran through the 1930s. Theatre-Goers, Farmers, Blondes and Brunettes, Policemen and Pilots, plus many other professions and hobbyists – all used Shell. A bold statement portrayed in a variety of styles by leading artists of the decade including John Armstrong, Ben Nicholson, Graham Sutherland, Tristram Hillier, Edward McKnight Kauffer and Charles Mozley.

The next categories to be selected were: artists, aviation, Irish landscape, English landscape, Scottish and Welsh landscapes. We followed with women in motoring, favourite slogans, development & innovation and finished with the seasons.  The voting has now closed and we are working on including these posters in the final exhibitions.

Poll results for each category are shown below:


Jeremy Gardiner – Falmouth Art Gallery – dates to be arranged

Shell poster 505, Kimmeridge Folly, Dorset by Paul Nash. Landscape painting of Kimmeridge Folly.
Kimmeridge Folly Dorset, Paul Nash, 1937

We are happy to loan three posters to this new exhibition – Jeremy is inspired by the natural world and from popular views of the coastal landscape in travel posters such as ours, guide books, postcards and ViewMaster reels, which will be featured in the show alongside his beautiful artworks. These works are created from painting, collaging, scouring and sanding down of the materials to create highly textured landscapes.

Images of these can be seen on Jeremy’s website  A new book, published by Sansom & Company,  titled ‘South by South West’ has also been written to accompany the exhibition.

Museum of Somerset ‘Landscapes of the Mind:The Art of Tristram Hillier’

Shell poster number 448, Tourists Prefer Shell by Tristram Hillier. Painting of a beach scene, the sea is in the background with a galleon type ship sailing by. A white cliff with a lighthouse is in the background. There are brightly coloured and patterned beach huts on the shoreline. There is a table at the forefront of the picture showing various tourist paraphernalia, including a map. We are pleased to loan two posters and two paintings to the first retrospective exhibition of Hillier’s work in more than 30 years. This is being held at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton from Saturday 9 November 2019 to Saturday 18 April 2020.

Tristram Hillier RA (1905–1983) was one of the most accomplished and distinctive 20th-century British artists. Many of his paintings evoke an air of other-worldliness. Incongruous objects and the use of unreal perspectives add a surreal quality. He was also part of the Avant Garde modernist group, Unit One, led by Paul Nash. Outstanding paintings by Nash, Edward Wadsworth and Ben Nicholson, lent by Tate Britain, also feature in the exhibition.

University of Copenhagen learning from Poster Exhibition

photograph of Spot On! British posters of the interwar years at Copenhagen University.
Spot On! British posters of the interwar years at Copenhagen University. Image credit: Line Hjorth Christensen

Continuing through 2019 the exhibition Spot On! British posters of the interwar years was reinstalled at the Uni­versity of Copenhagen, Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics (NorS).  Originally curated in March 2017 the exhibition displays many original Shell posters,  and is still very popular with staff and students.

The exhibition was included in a BA course on cul­tural mediation, prompting new co-curated activities, a student-made catalogue plus a caption-writing project.  The curatorial process included installing a newly added section on Danish posters from the interwar years. Short videos/spots of the exhibition were also filmed and edited by students as part of the course curriculum.

National Motor Museum, Beaulieu OPEN FROM 04/07/2020 – tickets must be purchased in advance.

photograph of the Shell Heritage Art Collection exhibition at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
The Shell Heritage Art Collection exhibition at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Items from the collection can be seen in our permanent exhibition in the National Motor Museum  where we explore the stories behind this innovative brand history. Original paintings and posters are on display with short films, interactives and a scale model of a Shell delivery lorry. These lorries, which displayed the posters known as ‘lorry bills’ on their sides, delivered the ‘spirit’ or petrol cans around Britain from the 1920s to the mid 1950s.

Museum of Brands, London

photograph of the Shell exhibition at the Museum of Brands in London
Shell at the Museum of Brands, London

As a founding sponsor at the Museum of Brands Shell now have a permanent exhibition exploring their brand history.  This incorporates fascinating artifacts from the Shell Heritage Art collection – from vintage oil cans to road maps to short films – taking you on a rich journey through the company and brand history. The exhibition even has an interactive game where you can create your own brand!

For opening times please view the Museum of Brands website.

A selection of 1920s Shell Lorry Bills at Upton House

25th Mar 2017 – 30th December 2019  

Shell Poster 390
Artists Prefer Shell, John Armstrong

Over 30 original Shell lorry bills and paintings from our collection have been loaned to the National Trust in a new exhibition to celebrate former Shell Chairman Lord Bearsted’s ownership of Upton House. Walter Samuel inherited the title of Lord Bearsted and a love of art from his father Marcus Samuel, a co-founder of Shell. Walter exploited his chairmanship of Shell to foster young and contemporary artists who helped create our posters which spearheaded Shell’s distinctive marketing campaigns in the 1930s.

‘A range of photographic exhibitions and Shell advertising posters from the 1920s will change throughout the year, shedding new light on what life was like for a home buyer in the late 1920s. You can be inspired by displays of fabrics, wallpapers and examples of exquisite taste. Understand about fashion trends and what it takes to create the perfect made to measure home.’

Other venues

More Shell Heritage Art Collection items can be seen as a part of larger exhibitions at Nature in Art,  Brooklands MuseumMottisfont.

If you would like a copy of any of our images, please visit our dedicated Motoring Picture Library website