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Back from the past

National Motor Museum looks at past visions of the motoring future

Mark Moran
07 April 2023
Atomic Car by Arthur Radebaugh (National Motor Museum)


The National Motor Museum will look at future visions of the motor car from the past, ideas that have become reality and future visions still to be realised.

Motopia? Past Future Visions will showcase a journey through 130 years of future thinking about automobility.

Opening on the 20 May, the exhibition will run until the 14 April 2024 at the museum, which is located at Beaulieu in the New Forest, Hampshire.

Visitors to the museum will see bold visions for vehicles and the built environment in which they would operate.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by the work of British architect Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe. In the 1950s he described the place where vehicles and humans co-exist in harmony as Motopia.

Much earlier, at the turn of the 20th Century, another visionary, John Scott Montagu, second Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, was predicting fast roads connecting cities. Successive generations have taken these ideas and built upon them. The exhibition looks at those and other visions of the future from the past.

The exhibition will have four key themes: vehicle visions will look at car design concepts; propulsion asking how our vehicles are powered – particularly timely when there is a resurgence of electric vehicles; architectural dreams which will include science fiction visions; and urban solutions showing how vehicles have constantly been re-imagined to suit our needs and surroundings.

Jon Murden, chief executive of the National Motor Museum said: “Concept cars, visions of the future at the start of the 20th century and ideas on how we travel and power our vehicles will be on display, and we’ll be encouraging visitors to explore ideas for an ideal way of living and getting about. It’s the first of a series of exhibitions at the museum that will focus on the future as well as the past of automobility.”

“We’ll explore how radical motoring concepts from the past that remain relevant today and how these have influenced what we ride and drive, the nature of our towns and cities, the way we work, shop and socialise.”

Motopia? Past Future Visions will be included in the ticket price for the Beaulieu attraction.

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