UPDATE (JULY 13): After a brief reopening last week, the Schulz Museum is temporarily closed again due to the latest state and county COVID-19 safety orders. The museum will be closed through August 2, and until further notice thereafter.
Fans of the “Peanuts” comic strips have something to look forward to this summer, as the popular Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, July 8.
Following guidance from the State of California and the County of Sonoma as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Charles M Schulz Museum will reopen with several Covid-19 safety measures in place to provide a safe, low-risk environment for all visitors and staff. When the doors open, the public is invited to view several new features, including new exhibitions and a selection of rarely seen items from the Museum’s archives.
“In this time of daily unease, we are grateful to be reopening our doors and providing a place for people to have a joyful escape,” said Jean Schulz, widow of “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz and museum board president, in a statement. “I think we could all use some good cheer right now.”
The museum closed its doors to the public on March 16 when Sonoma County issued the shelter in place order in accordance with the state’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. That sheltering order is now eased for indoor museums in Sonoma County allowing them to reopen with safety guidelines in place.
As such, the Charles M Schulz Museum is implementing policies such as requiring visitors wear face coverings and maintain social distancing rules that will be denoted in the museum’s high-traffic areas by Snoopy paw prints on the floor.
Current exhibitions at the museum include “Lucy! Fussbudget to Feminist,” the first exhibition to focus exclusively on “Peanuts” character Lucy, and which opened just one day before the museum’s temporary closure. Also on view is “Greetings, Charlie Brown! The Peanuts-Hallmark Connection” and a new exhibition, “Girl Power in Peanuts,” that opens at the end of July.
The Charles M Schulz Museum also hints that a new addition is also on the way and will be revealed in mid-July in the museum’s Biographical Gallery. For now, the museum is only saying that four large cases with built-in drawers will be installed to allow more artwork, correspondence, and personal effects from Charles Schulz to be shared with the public.
“We’re taking this opportunity to curate the cases from scratch,” museum curator Benjamin L. Clark said in a statement. “In the nearly 20 years since the museum opened, new objects, stories, and information have come to light, giving us a better understanding and a more complete view of Charles Schulz. These updated cases will reflect our best and latest research in a way that we’re excited to share.”
The museum also reopens under new leadership, as outgoing museum director Karen Johnson recently announced her retirement after 15 years heading the institution. Gina Huntsinger, the current general manager of Snoopy’s Home Ice for the past three years and the Museum’s marketing director for 12 years prior, will be stepping into the role of director.
“While this is an unusual way to start my tenure as the museum’s director, I am so excited to return to my roots of celebrating the legacy of Charles Schulz and his art,” Huntsinger said in a statement. “During the temporary closure, the staff took the opportunity to deeply clean and revitalize the building. We are looking forward to welcoming the public back and sharing some laughs—even if under the cover of our masks!”
For those who are high-risk for Covid-19, or limiting travel and out-of-house activities, the museum has also increased its online offerings, including a ‘Schulz Museum at Home’ webpage full of free resources and activities to enjoy from home.
The museum has also introduced online art and cartooning classes for kids, teens and adults that allows students to join artist instructors virtually from many different locations and time zones. Those classes include a new “Peanuts” live drawing series led by staff artists that continues with a class on “How to Draw Woodstock” on July 13 and “How to Draw Snoopy” on August 10. In addition, the museum hosts an online panel discussion on July 27 on the topic of “Exploring Intersectional Identities Through Queer Comics.”
“This fall marks the 70th anniversary of Peanuts,” Huntsinger said in her statement. “Whether you join us in person or online, we invite you to connect with Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and the ‘Peanuts’ gang and see why this comic strip has endured for so many generations.”
The Charles M Schulz Museum reopens, Wednesday, July 8. For more information on hours and safety protocols, visit schulzmuseum.org.