The Charles Schulz Museum & Research Center in Santa Rosa, CA
Growing up as a kid, I thought everyone had a lot of Snoopy in their lives. See, I live in Santa Rosa, CA and that’s where Charles Schulz lived most of his adult life. The local ice skating rink is the Redwood Empire Ice Arena or Snoopy’s Ice. The Christmas shows they put on are the best, a cherished childhood memory. Walking around town you see Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie Brown uniquely decorated and in the most unusual places. I can see a Woodstock from my bedroom window!
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an ice skater. I trained for a short period of time before switching to roller skating but I spent some time on their grounds. Across from the rink there is a pro shop where you get your Snoopy memorabilia, get fitted for new skates or an get an outfit. But if you were to climb the ramp to the second floor you would see an unfolding collection of Peanuts gang memorabilia. Comic strips, pez dispensers, t-shirts, pillows, stuffed animals, ad infinitum. The space was packed and fairly small. I haven’t been there since I was a child, I don’t even know if it still looks like that. But that was the worldwide destination of lovers of all things Snoopy.
I lived in Southern California for several years and while I was gone they went and built a world class museum! The Charles Schulz Museum & Research Center is very much an art gallery. I think the target audience is a 10 year old boy, Peanuts aficionados, and comic strip/commercial artists. The bottom floor right now is really taken up with the Peanuts and NASA connection. There’s quite a history between Snoopy and the space program. There are some models of space craft, actual pieces of space equipment and a ragtag module and costumes for kids to pretend “Spaceman”. It was really fun to watch a large group of excited kids bang on the pieces and parts in a whirlwind of imagination and space travel.
The outdoor garden is whimsical with plenty of art. We really liked the holographic birdbath. There’s a spotlight shining on the surface of it and with a little adjustment to your placement, you can see Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie all skating on the ice. Woodstock is even riding a Zamboni! It took a few minutes to figure out the theme but it’s the only time I’ve ever seen a hologram!
My 3 year old wasn’t real excited. She can’t read yet so the comic strips, which are obviously everywhere, were wasted on her. Large black and white reproductions are on the walls and in cases throughout. We did enjoy their education center where we did arts and crafts. I liked the recreated home office/studio of Mr. Schulz. It seemed to be they dismantled his office and brought the whole thing in. That was cool.
My bank is right down the street from the museum and every time I drive past, I look for Charlie Brown’s kite stuck in the tree. With all the new cartoons and cable channels and Charles Schulz’ passing away, I thought my daughter would grow up in a world where she didn’t know Snoopy. Instead, his presence and legacy grew even stronger in his adopted community. Thanks for all the childhood memories.