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The Cartoon Museum
35 Little Russell Street
WC1A 2HH London
+44 (0) 207 580 8155

Closest station: Holborn
Email: info@cartoonmuseum.org

Opening times: Tuesday- Saturday 10.30-5.30.
Sunday 12.00 - 5.30
Prices:
£5.50 Adults 
£4 Concessions 
£3 Students with valid student ID

Cartoon Museum: London's humorous side

With more than 1,500 original cartoons, caricatures and comics on display, the Cartoon Museum in London showcases some of Britain's funniest pieces of art.

On a quiet Sunday afternoon in Little Russell Street, just a stone's throw away from the British Museum, the Cartoon Museum opened its doors to my creative curiosity.

I was intrigued to see how this art has evolved, from the times of early cartoonists like Hogarth, Gillray and Cruickshank to the present day's rib-tickling artists. The gallery is home to nearly three centuries of humour, history and fantasy.

Opened in 2006, the museum is a small organisation with limited resources and run by mostly volunteer staff. I met Marta Nieto, a young artist helping the organisation, who tells me that the museum is now planning to expand. "The cartoon museum will display many more artists and will include animation as well," she says.

She mentions that most of the museum's income, excluding the admissions fee, come from charities, fundraising events and shop sales. To encourage visitors, under-18s' admission is free.

According to a FAQ's poster on a wall at the entrance, many visitors have wondered at the absence of overseas' cartoons and comics, such as Marvel Comics, Tintin or The Simpsons.

That is because only British cartoons, caricatures and comic art are the stars of this museum, while a small display of the most influential foreign artists can be found in the temporary exhibition galleries.

Expressing your hidden talent

The upper floor is dedicated to comics and graphic novels, including famous works such as Dennis the Menace by Hank Ketcham and Bryan Talbot's The adventures of Luther Arkwright.

This floor is an interactive experience as well, offering visitors the chance to get creative. There is one room full of coloured pencils and papers, just waiting for your imagination to flourish and start your own comic strip or cartoon. Here, people interested in comic art can also attend cartoon and graphic novel courses and workshops.

As in many other London museums, this interesting space can be hired for creative parties and meetings.

What's more?

In conjunction with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, one of the current gallery exhibitions (1 February - 8 April 2012) provides cartoon portraits of the Queen Elizabeth II with an amusing history of her reign. Caricatures and cartoons from more than 30 artists occupy a whole room in the museum, showing Her Majesty with many different "faces" and with coloured clothes and style.

Soon after that (11 April - 22 July 2012) the museum will exhibit H.M Bateman's works, the masterpieces of silent comedy.

The London Cartoon Museum is jointly run by the Cartoon Art Trust, which gives the Lifetime Achievement Award to artists who make significant contributions to British Cartooning.

Valentina Romeo