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.