Drawing Inspiration from Schulz
For many years thousands flocked to exhibits in the United States and around the world to see the work of Charles Schulz, but his original comic strips never had a proper home in Sonoma County, the place Schulz called home for almost 40 years.
When the subject of building a museum was first broached with Schulz, he showed little enthusiasm. After all, he was working on his comic strip daily and did not think of himself as “a museum piece.” Fortunately, this did not keep the dynamic trio comprised of cartoon historian, Mark Cohen; the cartoonist’s wife, Jean; and Schulz’s longtime friend and attorney, Edwin Anderson, from their dream of establishing a place where people could share in Schulz’s work and his unique vision of the world.
Schulz’s enthusiasm for a museum increased in 1997 after seeing artist and designer Yoshiteru Otani’s inspired and playful creations for the Snoopy Town shops in Japan. Charles and Jean Schulz agreed that Otani could bring an element of artistic whimsy to a museum that would balance and complement the comic artwork. Consequently, plans were made to build a museum on the same campus where Schulz spent his days working at his studio, relaxing at the Warm Puppy Café, located within the Redwood Empire Ice Arena (Snoopy’s Home Ice), or playing a game of tennis or softball.
Making the Vision a Reality
After hiring AMS Planning and Research, a national museum consulting firm, the newly formed Museum Board visited museums dedicated to a single individual. Upon completing their research of museums and presidential libraries, and an extensive search for an architectural firm, the Museum Board selected C. David Robinson Architects of San Francisco to bring their vision to life.
The Museum groundbreaking on June 29, 2000, was celebrated with the traditional golden shovels, including one wielded by Snoopy! The 27,384 square foot building was constructed over a two-year period by general contractor Oliver and Company. The Museum was opened with great fanfare on August 15, 2002. The Museum’s star-studded opening reception included such comic strip luminaries as Patrick McDonnell, Greg Evans, and Sergio Aragones.
The Museum Today
Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed over one million visitors from around the world, has the largest collection of original comic strips on display at any given time, and welcomes a different Cartoonist-in-Residence every month as part of its mission to build an understanding of cartoon art.