Temporary Exhibitions

Changing Displays

What's On

We offer a changing programme of temporary exhibitions. There are usually two or three exhibitions per year on varied subjects relating to canals and the ice trade. In addition we occasionally host art installations or other short-term displays.

Turning 200 - Celebrating 200 Years of The Regent's Canal

Drawing of boats full of people in procession, crowds watching from bank

Until November 2016

Two hundred years ago the first section of The Regent's Canal opened from Paddington to Camden Town. This included a celebration on the Cumberland Arm which was a half mile branch to a canal basin near the present-day Euston Station. The exhibition Turning 200 celebrates this bicentenary and allows visitors to see how to trace the route of the lost Cumberland Arm today.

The museum's exhibition research team spent weeks uncovering the fascinating history of the lost Cumberland Arm. The exhibition tells some enthralling stories of lost industries; the rise and fall of the canal arm and its renewal as part of today's London.

The Cumberland Arm and Basin were just a stone's throw from the new West End of London, and both were both planned bythe famous architect John Nash, who was a director of the canal company. Although planned to supply the surrounding aristocratic neighbourhood, the Cumberland Arm never fulfilled its potential. The Arm was not used by the railways when they arrived at nearby Euston, where this new transport technology was announced by the triumphal Euston Arch.

The Prince Regent gave his name - but not his money - to the venture. While the company struggled to raise the cash, he spent a quarter of the sum they needed on the tableware for his accession banquet. Then as the canal's fortunes declined and the neighbourhood became poorer, social reformers and artists arrived. Our exhibition highlights some amazing facts including how the basin was filled in with rubble from the blitz, and how a club for local working class girls became the epicentre of the revival in English folk dancing. Remarkably the land created was turned over to allotments which thrive to this day - probably the most central plots in London. Perhaps their continuing success is down to the legend that the topsoil came from Windsor Castle.