The body of work by Charles M Schultz amounts to so much more than a comic strip. It’s a piece of our history and a part of American culture.
That is why a visit to the Charles M Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa is so heartwarming and nostalgic. It’s hard to imagine my childhood without the Peanuts characters, and it’s hard to imagine our country without a Snoopy, Charlie Brown, a Lucy, a Linus and a Pigpen (amongst others) as character archetypes.
Thanks to the museum and Visit Santa Rosa for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.
The moment you arrive at the airport in Santa Rosa, you are greeted by the familiar faces of these old friends. Didn’t we all think of the Peanuts characters as friends while growing up? Their presence makes Santa Rosa feel like home.
There’s even a Lucy style advice booth for information at the airport.
But the real history is at the Charles M Schulz Museum and the adjacent ice rink and Warm Puppy Cafe where Charles used to dine in daily.
Santa Rosa was a longtime home to Charles M. Schulz and it’s where he raised his children. When the local ice rink was in danger of being closed, Charles bought it. It was a short walk from his studio to the rink where he could watch his kids skate and play ice hockey.
The museum and ice rink are side by side, so you can see both in one visit. Don’t miss the walk of fame outside the rink featuring the signatures of many famous skaters.
Touring the museum you will learn more about Charles M Schulz the man. There’s a collection of his doodles going back to grade school. It’s so fascinating to look at these doodles and see his mind at work, and the influences of the era that most certainly shaped him.
I learned so much more about the man behind the cartoon strip and walked away feeling like I really knew him.
There’s even a mural, painted for one of his children, that was preserved from a house he once lived in. They had to cut out the whole wall!
You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the evolution of his characters while visiting. There are a couple of forgotten ones! Above the gift shop you can view some of the many books and toy products that the Peanuts characters inspired over the years. I fondly recalled the Peanuts lunchbox and Snoopy Sno-cone maker that were once some of my most prized possessions.
It was especially touching to see how Charles M Schulz’s characters and kind heart affected others. One of the letters on display came from the Kennedy family, thanking him for his hand written notes and drawings for the children after the assassination of JFK. He corresponded and was friendly with several presidents and world leaders over the years.
Always political and election-involved, Charles M Schulz somehow managed to stay neutral on his choice of candidates. This caused some debate as both sides were always sure they backed them. He was pro American and pro Democratic process – first, foremost and always.
I was fortunate to be at the museum around election time when there was an excellent temporary exhibit dedicated to teaching kids about the election process. The exhibit featured election year art by Charles. We’ve all seen the Snoopy for President strips. I think this last year a lot of us would have loved to have voted for him too!
If you are visiting the area, it is worth a stop by to see a slice of American history and share a part of your childhood with your kids. Take my advice – you should go to the Charles M Schulz Museum. No need to pay me 5 cents!
Afterwards, stop by the Warm Puppy Cafe and do some skating or just have a snack which will be served festively in a paper, paw printed doggie bowl.
My heart was warmed and spirit lifted by my visit to the Charles M Schulz museum. I cannot wait to take my own kids back.
The museum does wonderful day programs for local kids that include lessons in cartooning and animation. Check the museum’s website for temporary exhibit information and more information on hours, events, directions, parking and purchasing tickets.