REVIEW: Night Shift – London After Dark @London Transport Museum

Jazz lovers, rat catchers, theatre goers and party animals all help London come alive after dark but what about the city’s transport system?

The London Transport Museum is presenting an exhibition that examines how London transport adapted and changed over the years from two world wars, the rise in West End theatre and for those people who worked on the night shift.

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The exhibition is clear and concise throughout, using a large number of prints and posters illustrating the changes that both the city and its transport system has been through over the years.

Divided into six separate sections, the display takes visitors on a extraordinary journey through time from the Victorian era when electricity was beginning to have an effect on how Londoners were able to enjoy the city for work and for leisure, to the present day when a night tube service will be coming into effect.

The explosion of colour and the variety of campaigns run by London Transport can be seen in the numerous posters on display – all of which are bold, colourful and can really attract the attention of the viewer instantly.

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But at no point does the exhibition feel overwhelming and doesn’t go over the top with information, allowing the visitor to discover for themselves the history and get a sense of pride in London’s transport system that seems to come through from walking around the exhibition.

The information that is available to read is clear and straight to the point and filled with interesting facts that will surprise and fascinate anyone visiting. For example on election night in 1922, an event that coincided with the first ever news broadcasts on the radio by the BBC, many theatres and cinemas stayed open later to transmit the results via radio. This meant that late night transport had to be in place for those travelling to venues especially to listen to the broadcasts. september part 2 009Although the exhibition has plenty of stories to tell and is done in a chronological order, it can feel a little bit chaotic and confusing in the way in which it is displayed and needs more flow about it.

But there are plenty of highlights, not least of which is the chance to see the result of the collaboration between the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and artist Marc Hagan-Guirey (Paper Dandy). The artist has created a unique piece of art using kirigami (variation of origami that consists of the cutting of a single piece of A3 paper) and is titled The Curious Night Shift. It includes key moments from the play, such as Christopher Boone’s   journey on the London Underground.

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It is an extraordinary exhibition looking at the history of London from a unique perspective and with a little more space it would work even better.

Night Shift: London After Dark opens at the London Transport Museum from the 11th September until the 10th April 2016. There is an exclusive night time viewing tomorrow night from 6.45 – 10pm featuring a bar, silent disco, a DJ and curator-led tours to celebrate the exhibition opening – tickets for which cost £12. 

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