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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 06:55 GMT
New cartoon museum in the picture
Blair and Brown cartoon by Dave Brown, copyright Dave Brown

A museum capturing the best of British cartoons from satires of Margaret Thatcher to the Beano's Dennis the Menace, is to open on Wednesday.

The converted dairy room in Bloomsbury, central London, is now home to 1,200 cartoons and will be officially opened by patron, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Marking more than 250 years of cartoons, caricatures and comic art, it aims to promote and preserve the art.

The collection reflects a British sense of humour, says the museum's chairman.

Cartoons can say more than words can ever say in a newspaper
Oliver Preston, Chairman of the Cartoon Museum

Chairman of the Cartoon Museum Oliver Preston told BBC News: "Essentially cartoons are art.

"They have never been treated as art and it's about time these cartoonists had a home where people could see their work and sketches.

"It's about the British sense of humour but also it captures the edginess - cartoons can say more than words can ever say in a newspaper."

Among the highlights is rare and original artwork from the Beano, the Dandy and Topper, including Billy the Whizz and Desperate Dan.

Fundraising appeal

At the other end of the spectrum is classic work by Gillray - the Plum Pudding, John Bull - taking a luncheon, and The Zenith of French Glory.

Work by many of the current day newspaper cartoonists, a form first introduced in the 1880s, such as Matt, Mahood and Kipper Williams, is also on display.

As well as showing collections, there is a reference library of some 3,000 books and classes for children and adults keen to try their hand.

The Cartoon Centre was previously based in Russell Square but following a fundraising appeal launched last summer, the Cartoon Art Trust raised more than half of a 750,000 target allowing it to move to its new home in Little Russell Street.

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