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: 01/01/2021 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:

National Motor Museum, Beaulieu – please check website for up to date details on open times

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.

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 2019/20 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.

A selection of 1920s Shell Lorry Bills at Upton House – house currently closed, please check website

Shell Poster 390
Artists Prefer Shell, John Armstrong

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 , please check venues for opening times.

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