Review of New Traveling Exhibit on the Peanuts Gang
Yesterday was Opening Day for two new exhibits about Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts Gang at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. And boy, the kid part of me was super excited to check it out – especially when I heard that the top dog himself would be making an appearance!
From now until April 5, the temporary exhibits will be available for viewing by kids and young-at-heart adults and, frankly, anyone who likes to smile while reliving the sweet natured and sometimes bittersweet antics of these beloved characters.
“Heartbreak in Peanuts” and “Pigskin Peanuts” are the names of the exhibits, which have been pulled from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California. I was invited, along with several other bloggers and their families, to attend Opening Day. The Center provided lunch and a guided tour of the exhibits but all opinions are my own.
The Heartbreak Exhibit focuses on the theme of love that ran throughout the years within the comic strip. There was the unrequited love Charlie Brown had for the Little Red-Haired Girl, Lucy had for Schroeder, and Sally had for Linus; and the not-so-romantic letters Snoopy wrote to various companions.
Corry Kanzenberg, from the Charles Schulz Museum, disclosed several “secrets” and interesting facts during her talk and tour on Saturday. She noted that the Little Red-Haired Girl was based on a real lady who had turned town Mr. Schulz’s marriage proposal years before. And Sally’s affectionate use of “Sweet Babboo” regarding Linus was actually a phrase Schulz’s wife called him.
I found this exhibit to be an absolute delight, with colorful paintings of the characters and framed reproductions of various strips centering around the theme lining the walls — which are painted the bright pinks and purples you’d find in valentines.
Speaking of valentines… the area also has a cute hands-on space set up for children to color and then “mail” a valentine to one of the characters. It was very popular while I was there!
The second exhibit features 50 football-themed strips from the Peanuts Gang. In all, Schulz actually drew 250 pigskin type strips.
This included the infamous ones of Lucy pulling the football away just as Charlie Brown ran over to kick it, ending with him falling flat on his back. Kanzenberg disclosed that poor Charlie tried this a total of 36 times but was never successful – something I heard several kids complain about indignantly.
“Why was she so mean to him?” I heard one little boy ask his sister. I guess the answer could be borrowed from Who Framed Roger Rabbit: because she was drawn that way.
This exhibit area also has a photo place for kids (and fun-loving adults!) to hold a football and even wear a helmet if they want while Charlie Brown is flailing and uttering the immortal, “Aaugh!” Or snap a picture beside a life size statue of a much happier looking Charlie.
Overall, I enjoyed myself tremendously and couldn’t stop smiling all day. Several times, strangers would strike up conversations while we were looking at the various strips to share favorite memories. One lady brought up the very thing my Mom and I had talked about earlier. There are very few cartoons that span the generations like Peanuts does.
It’s fascinating to think that these are characters that my Mom grew up with, that I grew up with, and that children still love. Although I enjoyed them all, my second favorite character was the piano-playing, Beethoven-loving, straight-talking Schroeder. But my very favorite (and I’d guess everyone else’s too) would have to be Snoopy, the dog I think we all wish we had – whether to feed, talk to, skateboard with, or do a Snoopy dance with!
The day I went was a special family activity day, but the Clinton Center will be hosting 3 more family-focused days over the next couple of months. On January 31 there will be a Pre-Super Bowl Party, and on February 7 and February 14 there will be various “Valentine Family Programming.” And I’ve heard that Snoopy will again be making appearances.
It’s so much fun Charlie Brown! So mark your calendars and be sure and check it out.
NOTE: The Center is located at 1200 President Clinton Avenue in Little Rock. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.