Visit The Cartoon Museum for Appreciating the Cartoon Art

With a library containing over 5,000 books and 4,000 comics relating to the subject, The Cartoon Museum in London exhibits British cartoons, caricatures, comic strips and animation. It has a stock of more than 1,700 original cartoons and prints, out of which it features a changing display of over 250 exhibits. The museum, located at 35 Little Russell Street, also issues catalogues. The nearest London Underground stations are Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines), Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines) and Russell Square (Piccadilly line). It is located just a few streets away from the British Museum but it is easily missed, although it is worth making the effort to seek it. The ideal place to stay for being able to reach the museum conveniently is Park Grand Paddington Suites, especially if you are travelling with your family.

The mission of the Cartoon Museum is to preserve and promote British cartoon art, comic art and caricature. Its collection dates from the 18th century to the present and is appreciated by visitors of all ages. The museum features many playful and popular cartoon strips featuring The Bash Street Kids, Billy the Whizz and Dennis the Menace that are shown alongside rarer and more politically minded works. Those who need further information and wish to explore a little more regarding any item can access the museum’s library after making an appointment. At the library, comic book connoisseurs can go deep and probe into the matter.

The Cartoon Museum, the first of its kind in Britain, was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on February 23, 2006. In its mission statement it noted that it wishes to preserve the best of British cartoons, caricatures, comics and animation. It also resolved to establish a museum with a gallery, archives and innovative exhibitions so that all cartoons, present and past, are available to all who wish to access them for research, education and for enjoyment.

The museum organises many exhibitions regularly. Some of the past exhibitions include Ronald Searle, Pont, Outgases, Rowland Emmett, The Beano and The Daddy, Mike Williams and Mel Calman. Cartoons from private London clubs are also exhibited such as Alice in Sunderland (Bryan Talbot), Robert Dighton, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and Spitting Image. The exhibitions of the museum also feature catalogues such as Ronald Searle: and Graphic Master which includes essays on Searle’s work. Artworks and written pieces have been created by leading cartoonists and filmmakers for paying homage to Searle, such as Steve Bell, Roger Law, Mike Leigh, Uli Meyer, Arnold Roth, Martin Rowson, Gerald Scarfe, Posy Simmonds and Ralph Steadman.

The origin of The Cartoon Museum can be traced back to 1988 when a group of cartoonists, collectors and lovers of the art form joined together to form The Cartoon Art Trust with the intention of establishing a museum that would collect, exhibit, promote and preserve the best of British cartoon art. For ten years they exhibited their collection in smaller venues until February 2006, when the Cartoon Museum was opened to the public at its present location in Russell Street in central London, near the British Museum.

The Cartoon Museum has three main galleries that exhibit original artwork from British cartoons and comics, both present and past. There is also a growing collection of cartoons, caricatures and pages of comic-strip art. Temporary exhibitions have been held since 2006 featuring Private Eye, William Heath, Robinson, Steve Bell, Giles, Pont, H.M. Bateman, Viz Comic, Ronald Searle, The Beano, Ralph Steadman and other luminaries. The permanent collection of the museum also includes works by a number of fine Victorian cartoonists including John Leech, George Cruikshank, George Du Maurier and John Tenniel, William Heath Robinson, and H.M. Bateman. Also featured in the permanent collection are Pont, Gerald Scarfe, Ronald Searle, Giles, Martin Rowson, Steve Bell and a host of favourites from newspapers and magazines.
The upstairs gallery of the museum exhibits original artwork by the founding fathers of British comics including David Law (Dennis the Menace, Beryl the Peril), Leo Baxendale (Bash St. Kids, Minnie the Minx), and Frank Hampson (Dan Dare), alongside work by Posy Simmonds, Sarah MacIntyre, Nick Abadzis, and the final page of Alan Moore & David Lloyd’s seminal V for Vendetta. From the US, there are originals by Garry Trudeau and Charles Schulz.

Events and workshops for schools and colleges, families, children and adults are also held by the museum. The whole museum can be booked for special events for businesses and social groups and the classrooms can be hired for children’s birthday workshops. More than 900 books on the history of cartoons and comic-strips, graphic novels and children’s books are available in the museum along with a wide range of cards, posters, prints and cartoon-related novelty gifts.

The Cartoon Museum organises an annual fundraiser known as The Cartoon Art Trust Awards for giving awards to the year’s best cartoonists and to the winners of the Young Cartoonists of the Year. The categories in which the awards are given include Under -18 Young Cartoonist; Under-30 Young Cartoonist; Strip Cartoonist; Pocket Cartoonist; Caricature; Political Cartoonist and Lifetime Achievement.

The Cartoon Museum charges an admission fee because it does not receive any government or local government funding and it has to raise its own funds for meeting its expenses in all aspects including exhibitions, events, learning programmes and other overhead expenses.

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