A stop for all ages
By TERESA HAMMOND
This February marks the 17th anniversary of the day newspaper readers turned to the comics and read the final original Peanuts comic strip, penned by Charles M. Schulz. The master cartoonist and story teller of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang passed away at the age of 77 on Feb. 12, 2000. Four short months later, on June 29, 2000, a groundbreaking was celebrated for the construction of Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.
The doors of the Santa Rosa based museum were first opened Aug. 15, 2002. This August marks the 15th anniversary of the 27,000 square foot facility dedicated to documenting and showcasing the vision and talents of an artist passionate for his craft.
“Every year the number of visitors increases,” Tracey Pugh, marketing director for the museum. “Last year we were just short of 100,000 visitors. The museum has the largest collection of original Peanuts comic strips, and visitors love reading, and reminiscing about, the different strips that are on display.”
The two-story museum features varying gallery areas with changing exhibits, an auditorium hosting programs, documentaries and cartoons, an education room and a replica of Schulz’s studio complete with his drafting table and small sampling of his library.
“Mr. Schulz’s studio has been re-created,” Pugh stated. “Peanuts animated specials are shown in the theater and change every month.
“The changing exhibitions are also a big attraction,” she continued, “and include a lot of personal items from Mr. Schulz’s life.”
A native of Minnesota, Schulz relocated to California in the late 1950s. He and his family moved to Santa Rosa in 1969, where he remained until his passing.
The current location of the museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, is adjacent to Redwood Empire Ice Arena, known commonly as Snoopy’s Home Ice. The arena was built by the Schulz family in 1969. The Warm Puppy Café offers guests a place to grab a bite inside of the arena. Years later Snoopy’s Gift and Gallery was built for visitors looking to purchase keepsakes of their Peanuts Gang. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is the most recent addition to the location.
“The museum is located on the property in Santa Rosa where Charles Schulz spent the last 30 years of his life drawing, eating and as he described it ‘hanging out’,” the Pugh said.
It’s reported that upon returning home from the US Army in 1945, Schulz became determined to pursue his passion as a professional cartoonist. The first Peanuts strip appeared in seven newspapers nationwide in October 1950. The museum, as well as its exhibits, showcases the vast variety and subject matter Schulz covered through his Peanuts characters.
Exhibits planned for the remainder of the year include: Snoopy Presents: Lucky Dog & Presidential Pooches; Peanuts and the Picture of Health; It Was a Dark and Stormy Night; You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown and A Friendship Like Ours.
“We are currently working on plans for the 15th anniversary,” Pugh said of the coming months. “We will be celebrating in different ways throughout the month of August.”
In addition to the historic comics, sketches and memorabilia throughout the museum space, there are many eye catching art installations including a ceramic tile mural depicting Charlie Brown running to kick a football held by Lucy. The mural is made of close to 3,600 comic strips printed on ceramic tiles.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is open year round. Weekday hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesdays) and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For additional information visit www.schulzmuseum.org or call (707) 579-4452.