This has been a year of exciting changes for us. Our collections, staff, and programming have expanded so much that we have completely outgrown our current location. Thanks to two extraordinary gifts, we’re delighted to report that The Ohio State University has committed to provide a new, larger facility, scheduled to open in 2013.
The lead gift of $7 million was made by the Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation in honor of Billy Ireland, the cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch from 1898 until his death in 1935. At its September meeting, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees approved our new name, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, in recognition of this very generous gift. This name is particularly appropriate because Ireland was an influential mentor to Milton Caniff, the cartoonist whose collection started the library more than 30 years ago.
We also received $1 million from Jean Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, to support our new facility. Along with her generous donation, Mrs. Schulz issued a challenge: she will provide an additional dollar-for-dollar matching gift of up to $2.5 million, making the total impact of her gift $6 million.
Thanks to these significant private investments, Ohio State will undertake a renovation of Sullivant Hall to provide new, upgraded space for the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Located at a highly visible location at the historic entrance to campus, the planned renovation will provide 40,000 gross square feet of space that will include a spacious reading room for researchers, three museum-quality exhibition galleries, and expanded storage with state-of-the-art environmental and security controls.
This past summer, we celebrated our acquisition of the International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection with two exhibitions and a special weekend of programming featuring Mort and Brian Walker, Arnold Roth, Jim Borgman, and Jerry Beck. Frank Pauer designed a beautiful exhibition catalogue that was given to attendees. In addition, a popular family day included a screening of The Secret of N.I.M.H. and special activities in the gallery. Kids and adults alike enjoyed printing comic strips on a real press and making authentic newspaper printer’s hats. The Wexner Center for the Arts was a co-sponsor for the IMCA programming.
In addition to the IMCA exhibits, we featured Ronald Searle: Satirist and Light: A Forgotten 19th Century Humor Magazine in the reading room gallery. The Aldus Society co-hosted a well-received lecture on Light by Richard Samuel West and we now have a digital version of this exhibition available at http://cartoons.osu.edu/light_exhibit. Our talented student designer also completed a digital version of our Sam Milai exhibit (http://cartoons.osu.edu/sammilai) and we will have a digital exhibit on Milton Caniff available in early 2010.
We partnered with the Wexner Center to host several film programs: Nina Paley showed Sita Sings the Blues; Wayne Alan Harold and Craig Russell introduced Night Music: The Art of P. Craig Russell; and Ken Mills and Jeff Smith presented the world premier of The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, Bone and the Changing Face of Comics. In conjunction with our fall exhibit Winsor McCay: Legendary Cartoonist, Oscar-winning animator and McCay biographer John Canemaker lectured on McCay’s ground-breaking animation.
Plans are underway for our tenth triennial Festival of Cartoon Art celebrating cartoons, comics and their creators! Mark your calendars for October 14-16, 2010 and watch for the announcement of our line-up of speakers in January. If you would like to receive announcements about the Festival and our other news and events via email, please go to our website (http://cartoons.osu.edu) and register for our email list. We also have some wonderful exhibits planned for 2010 including a look back at a century of sports cartoons, highlights from our recent acquisitions, and retrospectives of the work of Billy Ireland and George Herriman.
Lucy Caswell & Jenny Robb