Sonoma County

Cowabunga, Peanuts! Exhibition in Santa Rosa through September 11th

New beach-themed exhibition offers an endless summer of fun with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang

Santa Rosa, Calif. – The Charles M. Schulz Museum invites visitors to catch a wave of nostalgia this summer with its exhibition Cowabunga, Peanuts! on view now through September 11, 2024. Chock full of original Peanuts comic strip art, animation clips, vintage toys, archival photos, and more, the exhibition dives into the rise of beach culture in the 1960s and follows Snoopy and the Peanuts gang as they head to the coast for their own sun-soaked adventures.

“The Schulz Museum is often a ‘bucket list’ trip for many of our visitors, and we wanted to have some sun and fun waiting for everyone who comes to see us this summer,” Curator Benjamin L. Clark said.

“California cool”

Schulz and his family moved to Sonoma County, California, in 1958. The exhibition explores the cultural moment in the years soon after when beach life became a pop culture phenomenon and “California cool” pervaded music, movies, television, fashion, and realms beyond.

“Even fans who lived hundreds of miles from a saltwater beach were ‘California dreaming’ and surfing the sidewalks on skateboards,” Clark said. “Schulz was no exception-he found inspiration in this newfound fascination, bringing the California coastline, surfing lingo, and beach lifestyle to his Peanuts characters.”

The early 1960s was also when Peanuts found its own surge in popularity, and the comic strip made its way off the page and into animation, products, and more. Included in the exhibition are surfing clips from the animated features Charlie Brown’s All-Stars! (1966) and Snoopy Come Home (1972), plus vintagePeanuts memorabilia, Snoopy skateboards, and family snapshots of Schulz at the beach and skateboarding with his kids. Over 30 Peanuts comic strips and original drawings are on view, with themes ranging from beach balls to Snoopy’s legendary surfing escapades (and inevitable wipeouts) and even Schulz’s cheeky nod to the summer blockbuster film Jaws.

Pivotal moment in Peanuts history

The exhibition also shines a light on a pivotal moment in Peanuts history. Following a series of letters from a schoolteacher asking Schulz to introduce a Black character, Schulz expanded his cast and introduced Franklin in July 1968. The exhibition shares an original Peanuts comic strip from the historic multi-day storyline where Charlie Brown and Franklin first meet on the beach. “Schulz saw the beach as a neutral place where everyone could meet and interact, build sand castles, and have fun,” said Clark. “It was the start of an immediate, warmhearted friendship.”

The exhibition features a 1985 Cheerios commercial showing the two friends surfing while Snoopy sunbathes, and visitors can also watch the newest Peanuts animated feature, Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin (AppleTV+), playing daily in the museum theater. The Schulz Museum will host a panel discussion with the creative team behind the new animated special on July 20, including cartoonist Robb Armstrong and Craig Schulz.

Additionally, famed big-wave surfer Jeff Clark loaned several historic surfboards from his collection to the exhibition, including a 1964 “Duke Kahanamoku” longboard and some of Jeff Clark’s own history-making designs. The acclaimed surfer will speak at the Schulz Museum on Saturday, May 18, to share his experiences pioneering the massive waves at Mavericks, California. On Saturday, August 3, the Schulz Museum will celebrate its 22nd anniversary with a day of beach-themed family activities inspired by the exhibition.

Cowabunga, Peanuts! is sponsored by GoGo squeeZ and Sea Ranch Abalone Bay.

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Charles M. Schulz Museum

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