Launch - In Depth - March 2019

PHOTOS: CHARLES M. SCHULZ MUSEUM AND RESEARCH CENTE

Charles M. Schulz Museum Strip Rotation Gallery. (Credit: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center).

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the ‘Peanuts’ Gang Live on at Charles M. Schulz Museum

by Keith Miller

For almost 70 years, the beloved cartoon series “Peanuts,” has entertained readers and television viewers through 17,897 newspaper comic strips and dozens of TV specials. At the time of his passing in 2000, the strip created by Charles M. Schulz was printed in 2,600 newspapers, across 75 countries, and appeared in 21 languages. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California, about an hour north of San Francisco, celebrates the series, its characters, and its imaginative creator. The museum opened in 2002 in Santa Rosa—Schulz’s home from the late 1950s until his death.

The museum’s collection includes thousands of original artworks created for the “Peanuts” comic strip, photos, letters, artifacts, and tribute artwork; there are permanent exhibits, special exhibitions, traveling exhibits, and online collections. The museum also periodically presents renowned guest cartoonists who interact with visitors. Its research center allows students and researchers to study the life and career of Charles Schulz through reference material. 

Charles-M-Schulz-Museum

The Great Hall includes a tile mural of comic strips (Credit: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center).

“One thing you will always see at the museum is the original artwork of dozens of ‘Peanuts’ comic strips, [and] with three rotating galleries on a staggered schedule, there’s something entirely new to see every two months,” museum curator Benjamin Clark tells Funworld. 

A recent exhibition focused on perhaps the series’ most adored character, Snoopy, the free-spirited beagle of the comic’s main character, Charlie Brown. The exhibit named “Then Came the Dog” revealed how Schulz’s own boyhood dog, Spike, inspired the creation of Snoopy and why the cartoonist said Snoopy brought the strip a completely new dimension. It also showed the varying comical relationship Snoopy enjoys with other “Peanuts” characters. 

“Being able to get nose-to-nose with Snoopy, to be just as close to the source as Schulz himself was while drawing each one, is magic,” says Clark. “To be able to see the human side of the creator of one of humankind’s most enduring pieces of culture, to see his fingerprints, the eraser marks, the white-out corrections, is really special.”

Today, 19 years after Schulz’s death, the comic series remains popular. In September 2017, the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company extended its “Peanuts” brand licensing agreement through 2025, with an option to continue until 2030. The relationship commenced with the opening of Camp Snoopy at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1983. When Cedar Fair purchased Knott’s Berry Farm in 1997, the operator acquired the “Peanuts” license and eventually expanded the characters to its 10 other parks. The “Peanuts” strips continue to appear as reprints in numerous newspapers, online, and on social media sites, while the holiday TV specials are still shown regularly.

www.schulzmuseum.org