Past Exhibitions

In our Downstairs Changing Gallery, we strive to present informative, innovative, and dynamic exhibitions for our visitors. In past exhibitions, we have explored the relationship of particular Peanuts characters, Charles Schulz’s cartooning influences and those who influenced him, and how Peanuts has been portrayed in American popular culture.

Peanuts in Wonderland

November 8, 2014 through April 26, 2015
Charles M. Schulz kept more than one copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll in his library. Beginning in January 1958, and for many years thereafter, he featured the story in Peanuts. Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Sally all read the book aloud, and Snoopy liked to show off his disappearing “Cheshire Beagle trick.”

“‘All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.” Charles Schulz marked this passage with pencil in his copy of the 1960 Signet Classics edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and quoted it in several comic strips.

Peanuts in Wonderland celebrates the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and features 11 original Peanuts strips, Archie and Pogo artwork; and explores Alice in illustration; comic books, and animation.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has inspired hundreds of creative retellings, and an untold number of cartoon derivatives. From Walt Disney to Charles M. Schulz, cartoonists have explored imaginative realms informed by Carroll’s masterwork. With Alice appearing in such popular comics as Archie, Superman, and Raggedy Ann, Schulz joined a long line of cartoonists allured by the whimsy of Wonderland. Artists continue to see Dodgson as their muse, creating cartoons that contribute to the longstanding graphic history of his classic manuscript. As Wonderland turns 150, the story still rouses curious minds, recalling images of a fantasy realm where animals talk and hidden worlds are to be found down rabbit holes.


Social Commentary

May 3 through November 2, 2014
Health care, gun control, the environment, and racial equality were all topics broached by Charles M. Schulz in the fifty years he created the Peanuts comic strip. His beloved Peanuts characters raised issues of the day; Lucy embraced feminist philosophies, Linus panicked when he mistook snow for nuclear fallout, and Sally whispered about praying in school. Schulz also introduced Franklin, a black Peanuts character, into the predominately white cast July 31, 1968, just months after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

Social Commentary re-examines Peanuts in the context of the social and political climate of the latter half of the twentieth century. In addition to original Peanuts comic strips, the exhibition features original Wee Pals, Gordo, Pogo, and Little Orphan Annie strips. It also highlights reaction letters from the Museum’s archives, and contextual artifacts.

Schulz gently communicated the issues of the changing world around him through the unique pathos of his characters and his quick wit. And by remaining universally centrist, he gave readers the opportunity to interpret his comic strips according to their own personal dictates. Exceptions were rare and marked a moment of passionate appeal for causes he deemed personally significant, such as environmental concerns and civil rights advancement for women in sports.


Mid-Century Modern

May 4 through October 27, 2013
Many of the Peanuts comic strips of the late 1950s and 1960s exude the mid-century modern aesthetic of the day — the furniture, decorative pieces, and fabrics were hip, cool and up-to-date. In a series of vignettes these elements will be compared with the work of some prominent mid-century designers, including Ray and Charles Eames. Another component of the exhibition examines how the Schulzes incorporated the design aesthetic in their lifestyle through photographs and ephemera.


Name Dropping

August 18 through December 9, 2012
A Peanuts reader never knew who they might meet in Schulz’s famous strip. Schulz shone the spotlight on politicians, sports stars, actors, authors, scientists, and even his hockey-playing buddy. In addition to original Peanuts strips, this exhibition also includes photographs of and correspondence with some of these famous folks.


Leveling The Playing Field

December 17 through August 12, 2012
June 23, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX legislation, which ensures equal access to both men and women in federally-funded educational programs and activities, including sports. Leveling the Playing Field, a current exhibition at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, commemorates this milestone in sports history while adding the hilarity of Peanuts to the tribute.

Leveling the Playing Field features Charles Schulz’s even-handed depiction of girls in sports with 86 original Peanuts comic strips, an overview of women’s sports history, and examples of women’s sports attire from the 1880s to the present. The exhibition will also detail Schulz’s connections in the world of women’s sports, his friendship with legendary sports icon Billie Jean King, and his early years coaching a local women’s softball team.

After Schulz met Billie Jean King, he highlighted the issue of females in sports with a multi-day storyline in 1979 about Title IX in his comic strip. Schulz brought attention to women athletes by mentioning contemporary female sports stars and having his girl characters participate in a wide variety of sports, from football to figure skating. From Peppermint Patty’s athletic dominance to Lucy’s ineptitude in the right field to Marcie’s total bewilderment with sports of all kinds, the girls in Peanuts were always equal participants.


Pop’d From the Panel

June 25 to December 11, 2011
Pop’d from the Panel
sought to explore the influence comic strips and cartoon art has had on the work of such noted artists as Enrique Chagoya, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Ron English, Sherrie Levine, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud and Andy Warhol. Co-curated by Michael Schwager, Sonoma State University Gallery Director and Professor of Art History, the exhibition featured 29 two- and three-dimensional works of art.

Pop’d from the Panel featured work by 18 noted artists: James Barsness, Nina Bovasso, Enrique Chagoya, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Ron English, Tom Everthart, Llyn Foulkes, David Gilhooly, Jess Harrold, Gottfried Helnwein, José Ramón Lerma, Sherrie Levine, Roy Lichtenstein, Suzanne Morlock, Richard Pettibone, Mel Ramos, Wayne Thiebaud, and Andy Warhol


The Browns & The Van Pelts: Siblings in Peanuts

January 29 through June 19, 2011
Though he himself was an only child, Schulz recognized the potential for drama and humor inherent in sibling relationships, which are among the most influential and enduring associations in our lives. Over the years Peanuts portrayed many familial antics, including bossy older sisters, embarrassment caused by a brother’s inept kite-flying or chronic blanket-toting, and the petty bickering that can be a staple of brother/sister interactions. However, Schulz’s comic siblings were also capable of tenderhearted softness—help with homework, sage advice, comfort, and understanding.


Peanuts . . . Naturally

August 28, 2010 through January 23, 2011
Charles Schulz touched on many aspects of the natural world during the nearly 50 years he created Peanuts. Peanuts … Naturally examines Schulz’s exploration of the natural world in a fun and educational way. Following its run at the Schulz Museum, the exhibition is traveling throughout the United States to more than 31 museums and libraries for five years (from 2011 to 2016).


The Language of Lines: Imaginary Places in the Comics

April 24 through August 22, 2010
From the richly detailed flora and fauna of Pogo’s Okefenokee Swamp to the minimalist surroundings of Peanuts, cartoonists have long created rich environments in which their characters live, work, and play. Imaginary Places in the Comics presented an in-depth look at the choices cartoonists have made when creating the places their cartoon characters inhabit. Featuring over 60 comic strips, the exhibition welcomed audiences to visit Li’l Abner’s Dogpatch, Krazy Kat’s Coconino County, and Beetle Bailey’s Camp Swampy. Co-curated by Brian Walker, co-curator of the critically-acclaimed exhibition, Masters of American Comics.

For a complete list of exhibition titles displayed in the Museum’s Downstairs Changing Gallery, click here.