The Shell Heritage Art Collection is one of the most important collections of commercial art in Britain, and features work from well-known artists including Paul Nash, Vanessa Bell, Graham Sutherland and Duncan Grant.

A dedicated exhibit space shows Shell’s advertising campaigns from the 1900s to the 1950s, and reflects a diversity of artistic styles across a range of different applications like posters, press advertisements, paintings and illustrations. The historic Shell garage also situated in the Museum, illustrates the décor and character of a typical 1950s garage. The National Motor Museum collection stores hold a reserve collection of posters, artworks, Valentine cards and publications, all of which can be viewed by appointment. The main collection is stored and conserved at Shell’s Historical Heritage & Archive in The Hague.

The collection showcases the unique ways that Shell used art, sponsorship, products and extraordinary marketing to develop and promote the Shell Brand. From vehicles of a bygone era, to the endorsement of women’s rights, wit and vision come together to illustrate a charming period of history in a uniquely English manner.

About the Shell Heritage Art Collection


Vintage Shell postcard art

The earliest items in the collection are charming postcards dating from the early 1900s. The lively and colourful illustrations refer to events of the time. From vehicles of a bygone era to the endorsement of women’s rights, Shell’s wit and vision illustrates a charming and innocent period of motoring history, in a uniquely English manner.


Vintage Shell poster art showing Shell Oil cans spelling Shell

Posters are characteristic of Shell’s advertising during the 1920s and 1930s. A list of artists not instinctively associated with commercial art were commissioned to convey simple messages for Shell's poster advertising. There are over 7,000 printed posters and 1,000 original art works in the collection reflecting the charm and character of a nostalgic age of motoring.

Valentines Cards

Valentine card poem and illustration

Shell’s interest in Valentine Cards began in 1938 with the innovative idea of sending Valentine greetings to ‘lady’ customers, a tradition that continued until the 1970s. The cards were designed by artists of the day and carried witty jokes and rhymes on motoring and petrol themes.

Shell Guides

Wire bound Devon Shell Guide

One of Shell’s most memorable and loved products of the 20th century was the Shell Guides. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Shell commissioned innovative writers, artists, designers and academics to produce modern and comprehensive guides to the counties of Britain. Created to encourage the British public to take motoring holidays in UK, the guides endorsed the discovery and pleasure of the landscape celebrating the ordinary and peculiar of small town Britain.

Press Advertising

Humerous press advert with Tip Toe in the New Forest text

From the 1930s to 1950s Shell produced humorous press advertising designed by celebrated cartoonists and illustrators including Rex Whistler, Edward Bawden and Mel Calman. Their illustrations and witty rhymes inspired years of impressive campaigns that kept the public engaged with Shell.


Wall art gallery of artworks in large room

The Shell Heritage Art Collection is committed to ensuring that its artworks are enjoyed by as many people as possible through a variety of exhibitions and displays. Individual works are also loaned to museums and galleries across the UK and Europe for bespoke exhibitions.

Shell’s iconic heritage

Vintage postcard artwork Visit Britains Landmarks text

Explore Shell’s iconic heritage art collection for yourself at the National Motor Museum:




SO42 7ZN

Opening times:

Beaulieu is open every day of the year except Christmas Day.
Winter (25 Sept - 25 May): 10am - 5pm
Summer (26 May - 23 Sept): 10am - 6pm

Visit national motor musuem website

You can view ‘The Collection and stores’ by appointment. Enquire here: 01590 614697


More about Shell’s Heritage

Brand history

Over a century ago, Shell’s iconic logo started life as a mussel shell – discover how the brand has changed over the years.

Company history

Go back to 1833 to see where it all started and how Shell has evolved to become one of the world’s leading energy companies.

More aspects of our heritage

Motorsport History

Shell was there alongside the earliest motorsport pioneers, helping to fuel their dreams of turning a new mode of transport into an exciting way to compete. And Shell is still involved today, partnering with race teams at tracks around the world – from Formula 1 to MotoGP to Nascar.

Aviation History

Shell has been powering aviation from its earliest beginnings…here are just a few of the milestones the company has been a part of along the way.