The Zoo by Underground

To the Zoo by Maurince Miles poster for London Underground

18 – 28th June
Weekdays, 10am to 5pm
Location: Lyon and Turnbull, 22 Connaught Street London W2 2AF

We are thrilled to present a collection of eight London Zoo posters, created during the peak of London Underground’s most creative and progressive period. 

The London Underground enlisted some of the most talented artists of the Twentieth Century to create posters designed to catch the eye of passers-by. This vast array of captivating designs turned the London Underground into what became known as ‘the longest art gallery in the world’.

The most powerful posters were created under the innovative guidance of Frank Pick, who served as director of publicity from 1908 to 1946. Pick was a firm believer in the idea that good design should be the core principle of any enterprise, and he was instrumental in shaping the strong brand identity of London Transport.

Pick insisted that the Underground should promote its services artistically, employing the finest British, European, and American Modernist advertising designers of the era. His vision was to elevate public taste through education, and Underground posters were prominently displayed on billboards at station entrances and on platforms.

The zoo’s incredible animals, art deco architecture, and family-friendly appeal made it an ideal subject to entice the public to use the Underground. The commissioned artists eagerly embraced the chance to depict unusual animals, producing at least two posters annually throughout the 1920s. Consequently, the Zoo received more free advertising through the Underground than any other leisure attraction.

The poster designs typically feature art deco typography alongside playful and colorful animal imagery. A notable piece in the collection is a 1933 modernist poster by Maurice Miles, depicting a majestic and cubist image of an elephant amidst jungle foliage. Remarkably for the period, a significant number of the artists involved in the campaign were women. One of the most striking images in the collection is Ruth Sandys’s 1925 portrayal of a stylized sea lion about to catch a fish. By the late 1920s, London Underground posters had gained international acclaim in advertising competitions and were regarded as some of the finest in the world.

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The exhibition is well timed to celebrate the bicentenary of ZSL London Zoo which will mark 200 years of landmark moments in conservation and culture in 2026: ZSL Bicentenary

Please join us at Lyon and Turnbull London to view this private collection of original London Zoo posters, meticulously gathered over the past 15 years.

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Logo: Lyon and Turnbull

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