Museum of London
Museum of London



From recycling to alternative currency: what we can learn about urban living from past Londoners. We scoured our collections to find out how people have adapted to the city’s challenges through history and how we can use that knowledge today.

Keep in touch to learn what we’re planning as we move towards the new Museum of London in West Smithfield.




30 June – 1 October 2017


Recycling didn’t begin in the 21st century. From fixing broken Roman drinking vessels to scavenging Victorian coal-dust, Londoners have always had to make do and mend. This display brought together 2000 years of recycled objects from our collections. These artefacts give an insight into how past citizens reused their junk, and inspire us to reduce our own waste.


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“Sooner or later, Londoners will have to increase the rate they recycle, reuse and repurpose our rubbish, just as they have had to do in centuries past.”

A rubbish display: 2000 years of Junk >


Museum of London

(Un)Common Currency

6 October – 31 December 2017


What connects modern alternative currencies like the Bristol Pound with trade tokens from the 17th century? They’re both trading in trust, replacing government-issued currency with an alternative form of exchange that relies on other people. This display explored value and money, displaying rare notes and coins in our collections alongside modern experiments like the Brixton Pound.


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Time to Play

7 July – 31 August 2017


Once, London’s children played on the streets, unafraid of traffic and pollution. Our Show Space display used photographs, toys and oral history recordings to remember when “the street was our playground”. Our partner London Play is working to make our streets safe for children again.


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Museum of London

London’s past… articles

We asked our curators how Londoners had overcome the challenges of city living in the past, and what lessons we could learn for the future.

Breathing in London’s history: from the Great Stink to the Great Smog

Made in London: the past and future of craft in the city

London votes: Election Day through history

Saving London’s common ground

Pleasure Gardens: London’s first music venues





Every London borough has recorded illegally high pollution levels in the last two years