Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum
On a chilly day in the middle of our kitchen remodel, Lil and I took a break to visit the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at the Ohio State University. Leonard, the DIY whiz, and our friends Kate and Darren came along.
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library, held at OSU since 1977, is the world's largest collection of American cartoon art. The museum, opened in late fall 2013, now makes parts of the collection available in well-curated displays to the public.
I'm picky about museums - high school career tests always said I should be a librarian or museum curator - because I want the experience to be as high quality as the content. The Cartoon Museum succeeds at both. It's a small space of three open galleries that held the attention of our group of folks ages 5 to 65.
To make best use of the display area, and perhaps to give children something physical to do, the Walker Gallery contained many originals in drawers and poster doors that could be pulled out and discovered by the museum goer. No afficianado myself, I still appreciated the breadth and depth of the collections. I could find an original of every comic I've ever heard of and discovered many more new to me.
Through August, the museum is exhibiting a portion of Bill Watterson's series of work highlighting Calvin and Hobbes, the clever and smart comic about a boy and his stuffed imaginary friend tiger companion. Throughout the gallery you could hear giggles and growls as children and adults read originals. The exhibit included displays about how Watterson created the comics, his influences, and favorite tools.
I'm thrilled to find comics and graphic novels experiencing a resurgence these days. Once classified as daily newspaper amusement, cartoons are now being given their due as a valid form of intellectual commentary, art, and story telling. Cartoons and graphic novels help teach Lil to read and think in an engaging format. If you are new to family-friendly graphic novels, I recommend starting with the epic quest tale Bone by Ohio-writer Jeff Smith and the Olympians series by George O'Connor.
Guests can browse the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum galleries in 60-90 minutes. Admission is free and parking is easy in the OSU parking garages or ride the bus - the Sullivant Hall building housing the museum is right on High Street with a bus stop right in front.
Enhance a visit with some browsing at the library's collections website - http://cartoons.osu.edu/collections/. Here you can search a portion of the collection which has been digitized, find information on artists, and learn more about donating and upcoming exhibits.
Have you been to the Cartoon Museum? What did you think?
Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum Sullivant Hall - 1813 N High St Columbus OH 43210 High and 15th, enter from plaza also containing Wexner Center Open Tuesday - Sunday 1 pm - 5 pm
If you go, consider our other favorite destinations around OSU campus: Orton Hall Museum - free small collection of Ohio fossils and minerals Thompson Library - inspirational tall stacks of books and nice view of the city on the top floor Buckeye Donuts - I'll let Breakfast With Nick tell you about this campus institution