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£2m London Cartoon Museum completed by Sam Jacob Studio

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The museum’s design is intended to translate the graphic world of cartoons into three-dimensional space

Sited in the basement of an existing building on Wells Street in Fitzrovia, the museum is planned as a series of flexible and accessible spaces. It includes two main gallery areas: one for the museum’s permanent collection – which numbers over 6,000 pieces – and another for temporary exhibitions. Other spaces include a new learning studio, shop, offices and archive space.

Design features include a neon speech bubble sign announcing the museum to the street, a shop counter made of giant letters greeting the visitor with a big ‘Hello’, an abstracted tiger-skin rug on the floor and a fake bookcase with a secret door.

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 47 webres

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 47 webres

Supergraphic wall treatments suggest clouds, trees, even drips, as if the space has just been painted into existence, while the design also plays tricks with scale. 

The Cartoon Museum, originally founded in 2006 by a group of cartoonists, collectors and enthusiasts, preserves the best of British cartoons, caricatures, comics and animation. 

The new museum space opened with a display curated by Steve Bell, the political cartoonist and a museum trustee. It tells the story of the history of cartoon and comic art, and features work from over 300 artists. 

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 53 webres

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 53 webres

Architect’s view

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between drawing and architecture, so to be able to explore ways in which graphic, 2D ideas can be translated into physical space and material things has been a joy.

Sam Jacob, director, Sam Jacob studio

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 30 webres

Cartoonmuseum sjs jimstephenson 30 webres

Client’s view

Moving to a permanent home just off Oxford Street is very exciting for the Cartoon Museum. Sam Jacob’s unique design has created a vibrant, creative and fun space from scratch. It has always been our aim to send people out of the museum happier than when they came in. We look forward to continuing to animate the cultural landscape of London.

Oliver Preston, chair, Cartoon Museum

Cm axo colour

Cm axo colour

Project data

Start on site Jan 2019
Completion July 2019
Form of contract Design & Build
Construction cost £2 million
Architect Sam Jacob Studio
Client The Cartoon Museum
M&E consultant Quoda
QS Appleyard and Trew
Graphic designer Fraser Muggeridge Studio
Lighting designer Sutton Vane Associates 

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