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Monday 8th March 2004

Cartoon Museum

The Today cartoon competition has received 
countless top quality entries. Lord Baker claims Britain has a wealth of cartoonists - which should be celebrated in a National Cartoon Museum.

Despite the fact Britain gave birth to the political cartoon in the mid eighteenth century,we are one of the few European countries that doesn't have a permanent museum dedicated to the cartoon.

Lord Baker, the former Conservative Home Secretary, is keen to inspire such a museum. He argues that art has many guises, but not all have the universal appeal of the cartoon.

Humour of cartoons infects all generations. Manyof us have fond memories of our favourite characters in comics such as the Beano and Asterix.There's nothing like a spot-on political satire to bring a wry smile on a Monday morning. Which is one reason most national newspapers have a resident cartoonist.

A Cartoon Museum?

The Cartoon Art Trust is based in The Brunswick Centre, near Russell Square, Central London. It was established in 1988 and is dedicated to preserving the best of British cartoons and to establishing a museum with a gallery, archives and exhibitions, accessible to all for the purposes of education, research and enjoyment.

The Trust already holds over 700 fine drawings, which have also been catalogued on a database. The museum works alongside the Cartoon Study Centre at The University of Kent at Canterbury, which has a unique collection of original drawings of 20th Century British artists, and is widely used for research.


The Trust is currently exhibiting 'The Humour of Embarrassment' by H.M Batesman. Admission Free. Open Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm until May 22nd. They plan to soon hold an exhibition of cartoons of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair as well as Donald McGill, infamous for his 'saucy seaside' postcards... The Trust hopes to generate enough public interest and funding to become an established museum. To find out more visit the Trust Website.


In 1843 in the early years of Punch, the word 'cartoon' was introduced into the English Language in the modern sense of a humorous drawing. The usage arose from a competition to supply the new Houses of Parliament with frescoes illustrating scenes from English history. The large rough designs, or 'cartoons' (in the original sense used in fresco painting) were exhibited. The editor of Punch Mark Lemon seized the opportunity to publish his own 'cartoons', the first of which was a biting satire by John leech which bore Lemon's legend 'The poor ask for bread , and the philanthropy of the state accords an exhibition.' The new meaning stuck, and Leech is remembered as the first cartoonist in the modern sense.

Interested In Becoming A Cartoonist?

The Today Programme competition is a good way to start. Go to our website and find out how to enter - click here for more details.

All cartoons featured are published with permission from the Cartoon Art Trust Collection.

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