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Playful Architect Sam Jacob to Design New Cartoon Museum in London

Render of new Cartoon Museum
Render of new Cartoon Museum | © Sam Jacob Studio
Comic geeks and design lovers will be excited by the prospect of a new home for the Cartoon Museum just off Oxford Street, which is being designed by exuberant London-based architect Sam Jacob.

The Cartoon Art Trust was set up by cartoonists, collectors and comic-strip fans in the late 1980s. They founded the Cartoon Museum in 2006, but have been on the hunt for a new home for some time, having outgrown their location on Little Russell Street.

Whaat! © Dave Gibbons after Irv Novick

Sam Jacob is an apt choice of designer for the museum’s new home; he has developed a reputation for his playful Postmodern-influenced design such as A House for Essex with Grayson Perry.

“Sam Jacob’s unique style will help us to design a creative and fun museum space from scratch – right in the heart of the city,” says Cartoon Art Trust Chairman Oliver Preston.

The End of the Affair, The Guardian, November 23, 2000 © Steve Bell

The museum has signed a 25-year lease for a location at 55 Wells Street, a stone’s throw from London’s main shopping strip, Oxford Street, and set in the heart of Mayfair’s art gallery hub. Surrounded by high-profile specialists including The Photographers’ Gallery and the Maddox Gallery, the Cartoon Museum will be in good company when it opens in early 2019. The new building’s design will incorporate a brand new space for both temporary installations and the permanent collection, plus there will be a shop, learning centre and archive space.

Render of the proposed shop © Sam Jacob Studio

“It’s a fantastic institution with an incredible collection and programme,” says Jacob, founder of FAT Architecture, a firm that boasted clients such as the BBC, Selfridges and Living Architecture before it closed in 2013. “Our approach turns the graphic world of cartoons into a three-dimensional space full of humour and delight.”

The collection of artwork on show at the museum’s current location features British cartoons both past and present, ranging from the satirical works of George Cruikshank and Gerald Scarfe to the loveable rogue Dennis the Menace, created by David Law.

Beano cover, June 28, 1969 © D C Thomson & Co Ltd

“Cartooning is a peculiarly urban artform, particularly as practiced in London from the early 18th century onwards,” says political cartoonist and museum trustee Martin Rowson, “So it makes complete sense for the Cartoon Museum’s new home to be just as firmly entrenched in the heart of the metropolis as our old place.”

The institution’s current retrospective exhibition, 50 Glorious Shows!, celebrates the journey of the museum over the past 12 years, featuring highlights from its previous major exhibitions. The show will run until 2 September, after which time the gallery will close its doors until it reopens next year. Exhibition entry costs £7 for an adult.