San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum

by Rod Gilchrist

Disney's Captain Hook, a `Disney Villain.' Courtesy of Cartoon Art Museum.

The Cartoon Art Museum is a 14 year-old non-profit museum in San Francisco, California, USA. The mission of the museum is to collect, preserve, study and display to the public significant examples of cartoon art. The Cartoon Art Museum is dedicated to supporting the community by showcasing the entertainment found in the awe inspiring wonderland of cartoon art, and the unique educational opportunities that this art presents. Cartoon art reveals our social, economic and cultural history unlike any other illustrative art. It reflects our language and our lives. It shows us what we looked like, what we laughed at, what frightened or outraged us, and how we have, or haven't, changed.

Why Cartoons?
Cartoons are artful, provocative and educational. Above all else, they are truthful about human beings, life and the human spirit. Over time, generation after generation, they become a collective memory of our civilization as individuals, as cultures, as societies. The Cartoon Art Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting this unique art in all forms, although it focuses primarily on original comic strips, magazine cartoons, comic book illustration and animated film art. The museum exhibits original drawings, paintings and cels (as opposed to reproductions) so that the public can gain a greater appreciation of their rich aesthetic qualities, as well as their historic significance. Currently, the Museum has an archive of roughly 5,000 pieces which are being carefully catologued. Two special exhibitions are on display to the public.

Art from HBO's Spawn by Wild Brain. Courtesy of Cartoon Art Museum.

For young and old alike, the museum fosters an experience that is rewarding to share: the appreciation of cartoon art and its creators. Through evenings of discussion with interesting visiting guests, like anime experts Frederik Schodt and Gilles Poitras, to benefit auctions, exhibit opening receptions, guided exhibit tours, cartooning classes for kiddies and the Sparky Awards, the Cartoon Art Museum is proud to serve the community by conserving and presenting cartoon art, as well as nurturing art appreciation, while helping our community celebrate this vital part of our cultural heritage. This versatile vocabulary of images, ranging from editorial cartoons to comic strips and comic books, magazine illustrations to animation, is enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people everyday in virtually every country of the world.

The Cartoon Art Museum was established to provide an internationally recognized center where scholars, educators, collectors, appraisers, publishers, cartoonists and the public could meet, conduct research and exchange ideas. Of paramount importance is its establishment as a truly accessible resource and one in which the general public feels invited to participate.

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