My Favorite Peanuts Exhibition

Snoopy Museum Tokyo is opening April 23, 2016 (architect’s rendering above)

Many of my readers and other Peanuts fans will already know about the opening of The Snoopy Museum in Tokyo in April of this year. This has been a wonderful story which I would like to elaborate on here: it begins with a visit to our Museum here in Santa Rosa in September, 2010, from several people who wanted to mount an exhibition in Tokyo in the Mori Art Center Gallery in Roppongi Hills. The fact that the previous exhibition in that gallery space had been an exhibition of original paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston was not lost on us here at the Museum. Obviously, this was a curatorial staff that had high standards.







So in October of 2013, an exhibition of original Peanuts strips and other artifacts from the Charles M Schulz museum opened in the Mori Gallery and ran through the holidays, closing in January. In those three months the exhibition drew 280,000 fans, demonstrating to us and to the curators of the exhibition that there was a hunger for a world class exhibition of Peanuts art.

In 2014 several people came back to Santa Rosa with a proposal for a time limited (2 to 3 years) museum in a newly constructed museum building in Roppongi.  The Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa would curate rotating exhibitions for those 2 to 3 years just as it had curated the Mori Art Center Gallery exhibition. We in Santa Rosa are happy to work with a professional team to connect with our many fans in Japan, Asia, and Australia.

I volunteered to curate the first exhibition which is titled My Favorite Peanuts. This presented me with an opportunity to showcase some things I love, including special gifts from fans and personal mementos of my life with Sparky.

I happen to love the story lines in the strips, so I did choose several of those. To me, story lines show how both creative and clever Sparky was at his craft. A story line, whether it is a week long or a month long, must consist of good, solid daily strips, each ending with a humorous punchline which also leads into the next day’s strip. Readers of Peanuts take this for granted, but they overlook its complexity. (Not all the strips of the story lines I chose are included in this exhibition because our curator wanted to have a greater breadth of strips, rather than just 3 or 4 long story lines.)

The Sweet Babboo story line:

This Peanuts strip was originally published on January 31, 1977.

Sparky wrote a three week story line of strips about Sally, Linus and their classmates going off on a field trip. Sally is, as usual, grousing about the field trip, and Linus has the sense that he has been there before. When he realizes where he is—at Truffles’ grandmother’s farm—he runs toward a barn and greets his former friend, Truffles. Sally and Truffles begin arguing about Linus, who retreats to the roof of the snow-covered barn and has to be rescued by a helicopter enlisted by Sally.

This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 4, 1977.

I like this story because Sparky is resurrecting the Linus and Truffles relationship that began in 1975. This is much the way a novelist crafts his or her stories, not always in a strictly linear fashion, but by doubling back through old relationships and enriching them.

Sparky’s reflections on toiling in the garden:

This Peanuts strip was originally published on February 22, 1982.

One of my other favorite story lines is one Sparky wrote in 1982. This series has to do with Lucy deciding to plant a garden, but of course Lucy has no intention of doing the work. She wears out Linus first, and then Snoopy hires on, but he doesn’t last much longer than Linus.

This Peanuts strip was originally published on March 2, 1982.

I particularly like this story. It was written about a year after we had moved into a new home, and there was lots of gardening going on. Sparky was happy to take an interest in my projects initially, and was very helpful. But I have to say it wore thin as he discovered what hard work it was. A few years of helping around the garden and he was back at his drawing board.

This exhibition is coming together very well, with a catalog designed by Chip Kidd, who designed Only what’s Necessary, and we are beginning to work on the second exhibit which will be mounted in the fall. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of planning this exhibition, and I look forward to visiting to see how it all turns out.

–Jean Schulz


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