It might surprise the characters inside, but this London museum has a royal patron heading up their loyal following.
In 2006 a dedicated cadre of cartoonists, comic artists and collectors known as the Cartoon Art Trust put their resources and heads together to create a permanent home for a collection of graphic and satirical art and commentary. The resulting Cartoon Museum, housed in an old London dairy, is devoted to exploring the sometimes overlooked art form.
The museum has over 5,000 books, 4,000 comics and 1700 original strips, graphic novels, animation and caricatures, continually updated and curated, with hundreds of examples always on rotating display.
Some past exhibits have been artist retrospectives (Ronald Searle, H.M Bateman and Ralph Steadman have all been the focus of past shows), while others have been cross-cultural (“Dr. Who in Comics”, “Drunken Cartoonists and Drink in Cartoons”), and many have highlighted historical and political cartooning (“Heckling Hitler: World War II in Cartoons & Comics”).
The collections of the Cartoon Museum, which is a block away from the much bigger and loftier British Museum, hardly fit the definition of propriety. It’s not the sort of place where you’d expect the Duke of Edinburgh (aka Prince Phillip) to show up, let alone cut a big red ribbon to kick things off. But there he was on opening day as the museum’s royal patron, neatly pressed and ready to face whatever might be waiting inside to poke at him and the rest of the royal family.
It’s good to know that the prince is a strong supporter of the comic art form, well aware of its crucial place in history, culture, politics and social reform. And she might not admit it, but even the Queen probably had a subscription to Punch.
Update February 2019: The museum is closed until spring 2019 as it moves to a new location.
Update October 2019: The museum has reopened at their new location.
Know Before You Go
The Cartoon Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:30am to 5:30pm (closed Mondays except for bank holidays). Admission is £7 for adults, £3 for students, and under 18 are free (but kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult). They are just a block from the British Museum, and a short walk from either the Tottenham Court Road or Holborn Tube stops.