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Funky Turns 40 at the ToonSeum, a Celebration of African American Animated Characters

The ToonSeum and the Museum of Uncut Funk present Funky Turns Forty, an exhibit celebrating the legacy of the first wave of positive Black animated characters of the 1970s.

From a ToonSeum press release.

Until the Civil Rights movement of the late 1950s and 60s, African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens. While prevalent in music and popular culture, Blacks still faced extreme political, economic, and social prejudices. In comics and animation, Blacks were largely ignored or were depicted in broad, derogatory stereotypes. But as laws and attitudes began to shift, the Saturday morning cartoons of the 1970s became a direct conduit of social change, introducing a host of new Black characters. For the first time, audiences were exposed to positive, relatable images of Black life through animated series like Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Jackson 5ive, Josie and the Pussycats, I Am The Greatest, The Harlem Globetrotters and Star Trek: The Animated Series.

Funky Turns Forty presents a retrospective of original production cels and drawings from this turning point in cartoon history where Black and White animators created positive Black characters and Black-centric stories for all to enjoy.

A special exhibit in the Lou Scheimer Gallery at the ToonSeum will focus on the art of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. Fat Albert was animated by Filmation and produced by Pittsburgh native and gallery namesake Lou Scheimer.

“The ToonSeum is proud to showcase this important period in animation history,” said ToonSeum Executive Director Joe Wos. “This is a unique opportunity to highlight the role that  animation has played in promoting diversity, equality, and pathos.”

Funky Turns 40 is co-curated by Pamela Thomas of the Museum of Uncut Funk. The exhibition runs January 18th Through March 10th.

For more information visit

Or call 412-232-0199

ToonSeum is located at 945 Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District.


Adults and Children 13 and older $5

Children 6-12 $1

Children 5 and under are free

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.