Sam Jacob Studio was appointed to design the new home of Britain’s Cartoon Museum, following a competitive pitch. The project creates new two galleries, shop, education room, offices and archive space.
The design approach turns the graphic world of cartoons into a three dimensional space full of humour and delight. Just as in cartoons, physical things don’t behave as one might expect at the Cartoon Museum.
From the neon speech bubble sign that announces the museum to the street, a picture gallery red stairwell frames a changing display of cartoons from the museums collection and leads visitors down from street level, part reminiscent of a staircase hung with portraits in an aristocratic mansion, part strip cartoon.
The museum’s interior is first glimpsed through a smashed shaped window punched through the wall, with a 3D explosion beyond, as if the architecture of the museum had been subjected impossible cartoon-like physics.
The shop announced itself with a yellow ‘Hello’ that forms its counter, set on an abstracted tiger rug on the floor. The space is bounded by graphic cut outs that suggest clouds, trees, even drips as if the space had been painted into existence.
A fake bookcase with a secret door, familiar from many a villain’s lair, hides the education room beyond. Doors that seem sometimes too big and other times too small provide entrances to the gallery spaces.
Behind this playfulness, the design works hard to organise the space, providing both flexible gallery spaces and back of house facilities giving a clear logic and efficient use of space within the complex plan of the existing shell.
Founded by a group of cartoonists, collectors and enthusiasts in 2006, The Cartoon Museum preserves the best of British cartoons, caricatures, comics and animation.
Oliver Preston, chair of the Cartoon Museum said “Sam Jacob Studio’s design brings a real sense of fun and vibrancy to the visitor experience. It has always been our aim to send people out of the museum happier than when they came in. Sam Jacob is really helping us to achieve this aim. We look forward to continuing to animate the cultural landscape of London.”