Wish You Were Here: 151 Years of the British Postcard

20 May 2021 - 2 January 2022
The Postal Museum
Included in museum ticket

Wish You Were Here celebrates the iconic role the postcard has played in connecting people for over 150 years.

The British postcard’s history began in 1870. An innovation of its time, the postcard meant faster, cheaper correspondence through the post. They were used to send secret messages of love, to boost morale for soldiers at war and to boast from holidays near and afar.

Visitors can explore the postcard through history and reflect on its future with themes including romance, First World War correspondence, the Great British seaside, postcards in a digital age and contemporary art, with work from artists including Emily May, Francesca Colussi Cramer and Guy Atkins.

Every visitor to the exhibition can take away their own artwork in miniature. Artist Peter Liversidge, known for his postal inspired artworks, has created 4 unique postcard designs for the exhibition. Visitors can select a postcard to send, keep, or contemplate the thought-provoking ideas printed on the cards.

This temporary exhibition is included with entry to The Postal Museum. A ticket to the Museum also includes permanent exhibitions and a ride on Mail Rail.

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Highlights

Scroll through to see some of the postcards and themes on display in the exhibition.

Seaside: ‘It’s Great Here’ | Nostalgic saucy seaside postcards by the prolific Bamforth & Co Ltd reminding people of their childhood holidays.
Seaside: ‘It’s Great Here’ | Nostalgic saucy seaside postcards by the prolific Bamforth & Co Ltd reminding people of their childhood holidays.
1870: The first British postcard | The one that started it all and sparked the public’s obsession for sending and collecting postcards.
1870: The first British postcard | The one that started it all and sparked the public’s obsession for sending and collecting postcards.
Romance: Olive | Romantic cards with secret messages illustrated and sent by Harry to his sweetheart Olive in the early years of the 20th century.
Romance: Olive | Romantic cards with secret messages illustrated and sent by Harry to his sweetheart Olive in the early years of the 20th century.
First World War: Letters Home | Correspondence by Rifleman Harry Brown that captures the war through the postcards he sent home to his mother.
First World War: Letters Home | Correspondence by Rifleman Harry Brown that captures the war through the postcards he sent home to his mother.
Art: Contemporary Design | Discover how artists are remixing postcard design today. Image © Francesca Colussi Cramer
Art: Contemporary Design | Discover how artists are remixing postcard design today. Image © Francesca Colussi Cramer
Souvenirs and collecting | See why postcards became such a popular item to collect.
Souvenirs and collecting | See why postcards became such a popular item to collect.

Exploring Postcards

Explore the history of postcards with our videos, blogs and collections online.

  • Exploring Postcards

    Hear from the exhibition’s curator Georgina Tomlinson and our Visitor Experience Hosts about some of the highlights on display.

    Find out more

  • Postcards by Peter Liversidge

    Watch artist Peter Liversidge in his studio to learn about the creative process behind his latest work in collaboration with the museum.

    Read more

Shop

Watch a video about our exclusion collaboration with artist Emily May, then browse the range in the Wish You Were Here collection in our shop.