When in a Peanuts cartoon, you are transported into the world of a child, taken to their level, and seeing the world through their eyes. Entering the Charles M. Schultz Museum, you are transported into his mind and his world. You can see Peanuts strips and cartoons of your childhood, while also seeing his studio, how he thought, his history and more. When spending a mother/son weekend in Santa Rosa, we spent the morning in the museum, and both felt like little kids again.
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As you enter the museum, to your right, is the theater that features different Peanuts cartoons throughout the day. We started here, and watched a fun set on Schroeder, the piano playing character, and his love/hate relationship with Lucy. We enjoyed the comfortable seats, and laughing at the cartoons, and my piano playing boy loved listening to the classical music.
Charles Shultz Studio
Upstairs is where you learn more about the man behind the famous cartoon. There is a re-creation of his studio where he spent 50 years drawing Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts Gang. There is his table, his crumbled up yellow papers his assistant would dutifully iron out each night, and even the French sign he had hanging up.
Next to the studio is the gallery on Charles Shultz’s life. There is information on his childhood, his time in the army, his early career, etc.
At the back of the gallery is the Nursery Wall. When Schultz had his first child, he painted a wall in the nursery, and on it there are the first sketches of some of his famous Peanuts characters. That house was eventually sold, and the new owners painted over it. Years later, a woman who heard the rumors of this wall, over a period of several months, carefully used paint remover to find the wall and restored it. It was then removed from the home and donated to the museum.
The Great Hall
Right by the entrance is the great hall. A large hall it is filled with larger-than-life art inspired by the Peanuts cartons themselves. My favorite is the large black and white mural. As you enter, you see a mural of what appears to be Lucy holding the ball for Charlie Brown. As you get closer you see the fall or ceiling mural is make entirely of Peanuts comics.
There is also a large 3D wooden mural of the transformation of Snoopy, from the dog that inspired him to the modern Snoopy of today.
Downstairs there is a rotating gallery of special exhibits. We happened to catch the end of “Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist.” It was a cute exhibit on the evolution of Lucy, and his views on how she was a fussbudget, but also an outspoken feminist who helped shape a world of female leaders.
There is an exhibit called “Drawn from Life: The People and Places of Peanuts” until March of 2022.
Strip Rotation Gallery
Next to the special exhibits gallery is a gallery that rotates strips, generally on a theme. At the time of our visit, the strips in rotation were on the feminist storylines that were in the Peanuts cartoons.
Grounds of the Museum
Outside the museum is just as fun as inside. There is a courtyard with the kite eating tree, surrounded by benches for the beautiful days. Outside the front of the museum there are large art structures of Charlie Brown and Snoopy on his Doghouse that are painted in fun colors and designs. But around the side of the museum is the most fun. There you had Snoopy’s Labyrinth. A beautifully done labyrinth on the ground you can walk the windy path to the center by Snoopy’s ear. It is a beautiful tribute to Charles Shultz and his most famous character.
- When you enter in the museum, make sure to get a Family Guide. This family friendly guide provides you with activities to do throughout the museum. It is a kid friendly guide and lets the kids search for different items in each room.
- I suggest starting at the top floor and working your way down. It is nice to learn more about the man himself before exploring the comics you love.
- If you have time, visit the Snoopy ice rink next door. Shultz loved sports and funded the construction for the use by city of Santa Rosa.
I was worried that my son, at 11.5, you find the museum too childish. But I thought the museum did an excellent job of bringing you into Schultz’s world. Schultz once said:
“Why aren’t there any grown-ups in Peanuts? Well, there just is not room for them. They would have to bend over to fit in the panels, Your down among the kids. If you added adults, you would have to back off, and it would change the whole prospective.”
Entering the Schultz Museum is to enter and see the world from his perspective, from a childlike perspective. It is a wonderful museum that both appreciates your intellect as an adult, but lets you see the world with child-like wonder.