Relocated from New York City, a unique collection of original cartoon art exists in Boca Raton, Florida. From comic books and strips to magazine illustrations, find out why it is worth the trip...
The International Museum of Cartoon Art was founded as the Museum of Cartoon Art by cartoonist Mort Walker in 1974. Dismayed by the fact that so many original works by cartoonists were being lost or destroyed, Walker had begun collecting cartoon art years earlier. The Museum was created to collect, preserve and exhibit original works of cartoon art from all over the world. In 1992, the museum relocated from New York to Boca Raton, Florida, where it's new facility opened to the public in March of 1996. It's collection currently consists of approximately 160,000 pieces of artwork, including original animation art, newspaper strips, comic book art, editorial cartoons, gag cartoons, caricatures, sports cartoons, and book and magazine illustrations. The museum also has over 10,000 books and hundreds of hours of film and video, which will eventually be made available to the public through an on-site research library.
The Permanent Collection
Roughly half of the museum's first floor gallery space currently showcases highlights from the Museum's permanent collection. The newspaper strip area contains original pieces covering the medium's century of existence, from art by early masters like Richard Outcault and Winsor McCay to the work of more recent favorites such as Charles Schulz and Bill Watterson. On display in the comic book area are original pages and covers by Jack Kirby, Bob Kane, Curt Swan and others. Gag and magazine cartoons, many of which appeared in The New Yorker, are also represented in the gallery, as are political and editorial cartoons. The museum's Hall of Fame pays tribute to acknowledged pioneers and masters from all genres of the art form. Some of the Hall of Fame's members include Thomas Nast, Richard Outcault, Hal Foster, Walt Disney and Chuck Jones. Part of the museum's gallery space is devoted to changing exhibitions, like the currently running, "Cartoons Go to War" and the upcoming, "Superheroes: Superman and Other Comic Book Legends."
The museum frequently mounts exhibitions of original animation art as well. The museum's Summer 1997 show, "24 Frames a Second: The Story of Animation," featured artwork from the productions of several major studios, including Walt Disney Productions, Fleischer Studios, Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera Productions. The exhibition was divided into six separate areas, each highlighting a different phase in the creative process. Storyboards, concept art, character model sheets, animation drawings, background art, cel set-ups and promotional posters were all featured in the show. Also included were three-dimensional models, mock-ups of nineteenth century experiments in animation and a timeline of significant events in animation history.
One of the museum's current exhibitions, "The Gems of Disney," contains approximately seventy pieces of animation art from the private collection of Mike and Jeanne Glad. The show covers the first twenty years of the Walt Disney Studio's existence, beginning in the mid-1920s and ending with Bambi in 1942. Like "24 Frames a Second," this exhibition features several different types of animation art, from inspirational paintings to finished cel set-ups. Included are pieces from classic shorts, such as Steamboat Willie, The Band Concert, and Orphans' Benefit. Several of Disney's "Silly Symphonies" are represented, including Flowers and Trees, the first true Technicolor cartoon. Also on display are works from the early Disney features such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo.
Cartoons, comics and animated films are pieces of our culture that deserve to be preserved and exhibited. Like all of the popular arts, they reflect the ideas and attitudes of the society that produced them while simultaneously serving as entertainment. The International Museum of Cartoon Art will continue to educate the public about the art form and act as a repository for these works. Funds are currently being raised to complete construction of the museum's second floor, which will include a permanent gallery of animation art. For more information on the Museum, call (561) 391-2200.
Steve Charla is Collections Coordinator for the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida.
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