TribLIVE

| AandE

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Toonseum moving from Children's Museum to Cultural District

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, Aug. 28, 2009
 

There are three museums dedicated to cartoon art in the United States: New York City, San Francisco and ... Pittsburgh.

The 'Burgh's tiny Toonseum has struggled to find its niche in the past two years, where it has been limited to a small hallway gallery inside the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

"That's the problem," says Joe Wos, Toonseum executive director. "Our demographics are very different (from the Children's Museum). We'd get 40-year-old men asking, 'Are you sure it's OK to come in here?'"

That's about to change. The Toonseum soon will put down roots in the Cultural District. It's moving to the Bruno Building on Liberty Avenue in November.

The move will enable an expansion from its current 200 square feet to about 1,250 square feet, including room for a permanent gallery, films and all kinds of programming.

Best of all, the Toonseum finally will have a space all to itself.

Wos believes that a Downtown location is exactly what it needs to thrive. It will be hard to miss, too. The new Toonseum will be next door to two giant folk-art statues of jazz musicians.

"They're like cartoon characters!" Wos says.

When the Toonseum organizers decided they needed a new space, they approached Cultural District planners -- who initially were skeptical.

"They grilled us to make sure we were grown-up enough -- that we were ready to take this kind of step," Wos says.

Wos was able to make the case for the importance of cartoon art, and that the Toonseum could present it the right way.

"The Cultural Trust often does this kind of facilitation -- finding new organizations and businesses for the Cultural District," says Cultural Trust spokeswoman Veronica Corpuz. "Though they're not actually in one of the Trust's properties.

"The Cultural Trust thought the Toonseum was a good fit, because it would expand the continuum of diverse programming in the Cultural District, and offer an extremely unique opportunity to engage residents and visitors to the District," she says. "In line with trying to elevate the national reputation of Pittsburgh as a destination for art, this was another opportunity."

Cartoons traditionally have had trouble being taken seriously. This is changing, though, mostly because of the rise of literary-quality comics and graphic novels, and the growing respect for animated filmmaking.

"It's arguably the most popular art form in the world," Wos says. "It's the original Pop Art. It's popular with 2-year-olds and 92-year-olds. It's a museum concept whose time has come."

There will be galleries for temporary exhibits, as well as the Toonseum's permanent collection. The first exhibition, "Enchanted Drawings: 100 Years of Animation," will range from original sketches of Gertie the Dinosaur and Steamboat Willie to the Powerpuff Girls and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Another gallery will showcase Pittsburgh's strong cartooning community. Future exhibits will focus on original art from the Japanese anime epic "Akira," the work of Molly Crabapple, original art from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty," and "The Dogs of Summer," which features famous cartoon canines such as Snoopy, Krypto and Scooby Doo.

"Cartoons are also a great transition into many other art forms," Wos says. "If you have an appreciation for comic books, it's not hard to get into Lichtenstein, or Warhol."

The new Toonseum will host cartooning workshops for kids and adults, screenings of cartoons, performances, lectures and readings. There also will be a gift shop.

"We know we have to get them in the door first," Wos says. "Snoopy gets them in the door. Then, we get to educate them about the impact cartoons have had on our culture."

Initial funding for the move comes from a grant from the Grable Foundation.

"Gregg Behr (Grable Foundation executive director) understands how pop culture can be a tool to educate children," Wos says.

The Toonseum will pursue additional grants and offer memberships for $30 per year, or $50 for a family. Admission will be $4. The opening is planned for Nov. 7.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Ejections, heated moments mark Pirates’ win over Reds
  2. Zimbabwe alleges Murrysville doctor illegally killed lion
  3. New Steeler Boykin clarifies remarks about former coach
  4. Pirates notebook: Burnett says ‘surgery is not an option’
  5. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  6. Making environmentalism divisive
  7. County council candidates chosen for District 11 ballot
  8. Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
  9. Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
  10. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  11. Ability to clog the trenches crucial to Steelers defense