Polly and Her Pals by Cliff Sterrett.
May 31, 1936
© King Features Syndicate, Inc.
International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

Thimble Theater Starring Popeye by E.C. Segar. March 27, 1932. International Museum of Cartoon Art Collection, The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. ©1932 King Features Syndicate, Inc. Hearst Holdings, Inc.

Masterpieces from the Museum of Cartoon Art

January 26, 2019 - April 20, 2019

Masterpieces from the Museum of Cartoon Art will showcase more than 100 original works celebrating the history of this unique art form in America. Among the many items on display will be an early editorial cartoon by Thomas Nast, a spectacular Prince Valiant Sunday page by Hal Foster, and a witty New Yorker gag by Peter Arno, as well as classic Peanuts, Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips.

Treasures from this rich and varied repository represent all of the cartoon genres, including comic strips, newspaper panels, comic books, editorial cartoons, magazine cartoons, caricature, illustration and animation. The artwork is on loan from The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a recreation of the Museum of Cartoon Art’s Hall of Fame. Thirty-two artists were elected to this prestigious group between 1975 and 1997 including Walt Disney, Milton Caniff, Chuck Jones, Rube Goldberg, Al Capp, and Herblock.  Each honoree is represented by a superlative example of their work and a handsome brass plaque.  

The first institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of cartoon art, the Museum of Cartoon Art was opened in Greenwich in August 1974.  Founded by cartoonist and longtime Greenwich resident Mort Walker, it moved to Port Chester/Rye Brook, NY, in 1977, reopened in Boca Raton, FL, in 1996, and donated its collection to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in 2008.

During its tenure in Greenwich, the museum was originally housed in the Mead Mansion at 384 Field Point Road before relocating to Ward’s Castle on Comly Avenue, which was on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to displaying pieces from its permanent collection of over 80,000 originals, the museum featured rotating exhibitions including such blockbusters as The Art of Walt Disney Studios, Women and the Comics, The Dick Tracy Exhibit, and Batman – Fifty Years of the Dark Knight. The Celebrity Cartoonist Program hosted live “chalk-talks” on the first Sunday of each month, and included appearances by such luminaries as Art Spiegelman, George Booth, and Jules Feiffer. The Children’s Cartoon Contest was an annual tradition.

Brian Walker, a former director of the Museum of Cartoon Art, who has been responsible for more than 70 cartoon exhibitions, is serving as guest curator. “I am very excited to display this collection in my hometown of Greenwich,” says Brian. “I’m sure many residents fondly remember the days when the museum was a local attraction. The exhibit is a tribute to my father’s dedicated efforts to establish an institution where the public could view cartoon art on a regular basis. His dream is now being continued by the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.”

Masterpieces from the Museum of Cartoon Art promises to provide an entertaining and educational experience for visitors of all ages and, for those who remember the institution during its time in the area, a nostalgic rediscovery of what the museum had to offer.

 The exhibition will also feature displays documenting the formative years of the Museum of Cartoon Art, the European roots of cartoons and comics, and a video presentation of classic animation.

Special programming will include a lecture at the Bruce on February 18, Breaking Into the Boys Club: A Whirlwind History of Women and Cartooning, by Jenny Robb, Curator and Associate Professor at the Billy Ireland, and a panel tribute to the Golden Age of Cartooning in Connecticut with Cullen Murphy, Chance Browne, Brian, Greg, and Neal Walker on March 7. Click on the “Reservations” buttons on the home page to reserve your seat, or call 203-869-0376.

The Bruce Museum is grateful for support of this exhibition from The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and a Committee of Honor co-chaired by Millicent S. Armstrong, York Baker, and Anne Hall Elser. The Honorary Chair is Roz Chast, staff cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine, whose work was the subject of a 2014 exhibition at the Bruce, Being, Nothingness and Much, Much More: Roz Chast, Beyond The New Yorker.