About the Cartoon Art Museum

 

Founded in 1984, the Cartoon Art Museum has something for everyone—from comic strips, comic books and anime to political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comix. People of all ages can view original cartoon art at exhibitions and screenings, produce their own comics and animation at classes and workshops, research deeply into our collection and library, and mix and mingle with professional and aspiring cartoonists. This unique institution houses approximately 7,000 original pieces in our permanent collection and attracts more than 30,000 visitors annually.

 
 

OUR MISSION

The Cartoon Art Museum’s mission is to ignite imaginations and foster the next generation of visual storytellers by celebrating the history of cartoon art, its role in society, and its universal appeal.

Our vision is to be the premier destination to experience cartoon art in all its many forms from around the world, and a leader in providing insight into the process of creating it.

 
 

OUR home

Opened to the public at its new location in the fall of 2017, with a breathtaking view of the San Francisco Bay, the Cartoon Art Museum at 781 Beach Street in San Francisco is just one block from Aquatic Park, the Maritime Museum, Ghirardelli Square, and the Hyde Street cable car turnaround. The 1912 brick building features a beautiful historic façade, prominent street presence, convenient parking, and easy access to and from public transportation, for highly visible public access to the Museum’s nearly 8,000 square feet of spacious galleries with a screening area, education space, store, library and collections facility. Our new home is a perfect venue for viewing, discussing, creating, and interacting with all forms of cartoon art, and connecting with the artists who make it, against the backdrop of one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes!

 

Bil Keane, The Family Circus

 
 

thINK OF THE Cartoon Art Museum As a place where…

  • You and your entire family can see all kinds of cartoon art, discover how it was created, and meet artists who make it.

  • You can chuckle while you gain insight into various political viewpoints, cultures, and historical eras — without needing to study.

  • You can look around and — no matter where you were born — you always see a bit of your world on display.

  • You can mine the depths of research and closely inspect our vast collection of original cartoon art and publications.

  • You can relish getting your hands messy and feel energized when you admire your new creation.

  • Your child can dream about becoming a cartoonist while enjoying our classes — and scholarships are available to ensure that every child can become easily inspired.

 
 
 

Our Heart

Painted heart sculpture by cartoonist Phil Frank

The heart sculpture on display in the Cartoon Art Museum's lobby was part of the city-wide Hearts in San Francisco project, which began in 2004. Over a hundred original heart sculptures were created by local Bay Area artists and displayed in public locations throughout San Francisco before being auctioned as a fundraiser project benefiting San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.

The Cartoon Art Museum heart was sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle and created by Bay Area artist Phil Frank, creator of the comic strip Farley. Frank’s heart, with images inspired by the long-running musical Beach Blanket Babylon, was donated to the museum by Beach Blanket Babylon producer Jo Schuman Silver.

 
 
 

Our History

In 1984, a group of cartoon art enthusiasts began organizing exhibitions by using artwork from their own collections. For several years, the Cartoon Art Museum was a “museum without walls,” setting up shows in local museums and corporate spaces. In 1987, with an endowment from Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, the museum established residence in the heart of San Francisco’s new vibrant art center, Yerba Buena Gardens. The museum moved from its original home, 665 Third Street to 814 Mission Street in 1995. In 2001, the museum moved to a new location down the street, where it remained for the next 14 years. The 655 Mission Street location closed in 2015, and the museum moved again to its fourth and current location at 781 Beach Street.

Over the past three decades, the museum has produced nearly 200 exhibitions on topics ranging from politics and sports to children’s literature and Latino culture, and more than 20 publications celebrating and examining the diversity of cartoon art in animation, comics, graphic novels, zines and book illustration.

Among the hundreds of artists that have been featured are Kate Beaton, Mary Blair, Roz Chast, Robert Crumb, Dan DeCarlo, Will Eisner, Phil Frank, Dave Gibbons, Edward Gorey, Los Bros. Hernandez, Lynn Johnston, Chuck Jones, Jack Kirby, Keith Knight, Tom Meyer, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, John Romita, Stan Sakai, Dr. Seuss, Charles Schulz, Raina Telgemeier, Garry Trudeau, Morrie Turner, Mort Walker, Bill Watterson, and Wally Wood.

Hilary Price, Rhymes with Orange (2000)

The museum’s Sparky Awards, named for Peanuts creator Charles “Sparky” Schulz, have been awarded to more than 20 cartoonists and other significant contributors to the world of cartoon art.

 
 
 

TIMELINE

Landmarks in cartoon art museum history

1984.png

The Cartoon Art Museum (CAM) is founded by Malcolm Whyte and a dedicated group of cartoon enthusiasts.


1987.png

A generous gift from Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz establishes the Cartoon Art Museum’s endowment fund. The museum opens its first location at 665 Third Street in downtown San Francisco. The inaugural exhibition, Drawn to Excellence: Masters of Cartoon Art, showcases original works of comic strip art; the exhibition catalog includes a forward by Wayne Thiebaud.


1986.png

CAM acquires its initial collection of cartoon art with original animation cels, comic strips, and comic book art including Bugs Bunny, Winnie the Pooh, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts, Morrie Turner’s Wee Pals, Bill Keane’s Family Circus, and many others.


1989.png

CAM’s Batman exhibition opens to rave reviews with innovative exhibition design featuring a Bat Cave entrance to the gallery.

The museum launches the nation’s first Cartoonists-in-Residence program to provide opportunities for visitors to engage with artists as they create their work.


1991.png

The museum doubles its gallery space at 665 Third Street.


1993.png

With a Smile and a Song: The Animation of Snow White exhibition opening event is attended by Marge Champion (original model for Snow White) and four of “The Nine Old Men” (Ward Kimball, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnson) who were core animators of many Disney classics.


1995.png

The Cartoon Art Museum moves to its second location, a second-floor space at 814 Mission Street (at 4th Street) in San Francisco.

 
The second-floor galleries at 814 Mission Street

The second-floor galleries at 814 Mission Street


1998.png

Out of Chaos: Art of the Brothers Crumb exhibition and event opens at CAM with Terry Zwigoff (director of the movie Crumb), Maxon Crumb, and Jesse Crumb in attendance.

CAM establishes the Sparky Awards to honor, support, and celebrate cartoon artists who embody the talent, innovation, and humanity of Charles M. Schulz. The first awards are bestowed upon Charles M. Schulz, John Lasseter, and Chuck Jones.


2001.png

CAM moves to its third location, a street-level storefront at 655 Mission Street near SFMOMA in downtown San Francisco’s Yerba Buena arts district.

 
The works of Edward Gorey, on display at the 655 Mission Street gallery during the 2001  Gorey at Bay  exhibition.

The works of Edward Gorey, on display at the 655 Mission Street gallery during the 2001 Gorey at Bay exhibition.


2002.png

A rare exhibition of Bill Waterson’s Calvin & Hobbes: Sunday Pages is attended by more visitors than any prior exhibition at the museum.

CAM’s Spider-Man exhibition opening is attended by artists John Romita Sr. and John Romita Jr.; a live segment of NBC’s Today Show is produced at CAM and aired on national TV.


2003.png

Unveiling of an original George Herriman Krazy Kat Sunday comic strip donated to the Cartoon Art Museum’s collection by Doonesbury artist Garry Trudeau, who presented it at CAM during the National Cartoonists Society conference.


2007.png

The Art and Flair of Mary Blair, the first solo exhibition featuring the art of Mary Blair, opens at the Cartoon Art Museum and travels internationally. An unsung cartoon artist during the 1940s and ’50s. Blair created concept art for many of Disney’s animation classics, including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, as well as designs for the It’s a Small World attraction at the Disneyland theme park.


2009.png

The Art of Coraline exhibition, featuring stop-motion animation puppets, set pieces, and concept art by creators Neil Gaiman, Henry Selick, and LAIKA Animation Studios attracts record-breaking crowds.


The 655 Mission Street gallery, during the 2010 exhibition  Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women .

The 655 Mission Street gallery, during the 2010 exhibition Graphic Details: Confessional Comics by Jewish Women.


2013.png

Grains of Sand: 25 Years of the Sandman, a retrospective of the groundbreaking Vertigo/DC Comics series, launches with an exhibition catalog and lecture series featuring artists Mike Dringenberg, Barron Storey, Gary Amaro, Steve Leialoha, and J.H. Williams III.


2017.png

The Cartoon Art Museum opens its fourth location in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood with two inaugural exhibitions: Smile! The Comics of Raina Telgemeier and A Tribute to Mike Mignola’s Hellboy.