The Toonseum in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. A place to explore the world of Comic Books

Seminar Paper, 2015

19 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of content:


Employees and Supporters

Mission Statement

The Museum itself

Ways to Support the Toonseum

Exhibition “Drawn in Pittsburgh”

Exhibition “Darth Vader and Friends

Community Interaction

Free Comic Books - An approach to connect with other areas




The Toonseum is part of the rich museum landscape in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is an independent art museum located in the Downtown of Pittsburgh, which is dedicated to the pop culture of comics and cartoons. Established in 2007 it is one of only a handful of museums which deal with comics and cartoons in the whole United States, together with the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York and the Schulz Museum. It is an independent non-profit organization that is mainly volunteer runned. In comparison to other museums the Toonseum is of a smaller nature. Nevertheless on average there are 100 pieces exhibited all the time. The exhibitions rotate every month in order to provide a variety of content for visitors. At the beginning the Toonseum was designed to be a partner institution of the Pittsburgh Children´s museum before it became an independent institution and moved to Pittsburgh´s Cultural District in 2009. It was founded by Joe Woe, a cartoonist and storyteller who also worked for the Children´s museum and who provided a lot of the objects for the museum from his own private collection in the first months.[1]

“Pittsburgh is the perfect place for a space to preserve cartoon art, Wos says. "There's a rich history of cartooning in Pittsburgh."

(“Children´s Museum gets in toon with new gallery”, Oct. 9, 2007, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Adrian McCoy, gallery/stories/200710090254, last modified 19th Nov. 2015)

This paper will show how the Toonseum interacts with its community in Pittsburgh. It will become clear that it uses a lot of different approaches in order to reach out to its surrounding community and to offer a beneficial and also entertaining educational program. Furthermore it will be shown that, in order to interact in the best possible way, the Toonseum itself moves away from being a classical type of an art museum and transforms itself into a more hybrid version of museum that combines different cultural institutions in order to fulfill its mission in the best way.

Employees and Supporters:

The Toonseum has a dedicated staff that is supported by several volunteers in order to provide the best museum experience for its visitors. There are 2 part-time employees and a 13 member board who are in charge of the annual budget of xxx$ The Board President of the Toonseum is Rob Rogers. Rogers is a famous cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 1984, but his drawings also appear in the NY Times, the Washington Post, the USA Today and Newsweek. He is the winner of several awards like the Thomas Nast Award from the Overseas Press Club in 2000 and 2013, the National Headliner Award in 1995 and several Golden Quills. In 1999 he was also among the Finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Aside from this Rogers also worked as the curator of three national cartoon exhibitions. The first one Too Hot to Handel: Creating Controversy through Political Cartoons in 2003 dealt with the artist impetus of his work and furthermore the reactions of readers that ranged from outraged to satisfied. The second exhibition that Rogers developed was the Drawn to the Summit: A G-20 Exhibition of Political Cartoons in 2009. This exhibition presented cartoons and drawings of the G20 leaders and addressed political topics of controversy and protest. Both exhibitions took place at the Andy Warhol Museum. A third Rogers´ exhibition with the title Bush Leaguers: Cartoonists take on the White House, which was displayed in 2007 at the American University Museum included a collections of cartoons about G.W. Bush and his advisors (e.g. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld etc.). Rogers is also a member and the former president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. Other important staff members are Vice-President Harold Behar, Gallery Manager Dani Grew and the Social Media Coordinator Alexa Astarte.

Especially the fact that a small museum like the Toonseum has a Social Media Coordinator shows how important the aspect of Social Media is for museums in the 21st century. This focus on Social Media and Technology will be more elaborated in the following chapters.[2] The Toonseum is supported by a variety of funders, where the most important ones shall be shortly presented here, because those supporters mirror the mission that the Toonseum wants to fulfill. One supporter is the Grable Foundation. The Grable Foundation operates under the mission to help especially children and young adults on their way to become independent and caring members of society. The organization has its focus on the area of Southwestern Pennsylvania and seeks out only for non-profit partners. They provide support for projects dealing with education, creativity and public safety in form of afterschool and summer programs, parenting support or with providing learning places. Another supporter of the Toonseum is the Jean Schulz Donor Advised Fund of Sonoma County Foundation. This Foundation is part of the Community Foundation Sonoma County which was established in 1983 and that has currently 450 charitable funds. The Foundation seeks to help individuals, families and also non-profit organization like the Toonseum. They believe strongly in the power of connecting people, ideas and resources for the benefits of everybody. The Foundation has also a strong connection to the art of cartoons and comics because Jean Schulz was the widow of Charles Schulz, the creator of the famous cartoon Peanuts. The third foundation that shall be mentioned here is Pittsburgh Foundation. The Pittsburgh Foundation was established in 1945 and belongs to the oldest community foundations in the United States. It is also the 13th largest foundation in the US. Dealing with resources from individuals, businesses and organizations the Pittsburgh foundation sees its commitment especially in the area of the city itself. They support a broad spectrum of projects in the city in order to enhance and uplift the community of Pittsburgh. Looking at the several foundations that support the Toonseum it becomes clear, where the focus of the museum is set. The exhibition of cartoon art shall benefit especially children and young adults from and around the city of Pittsburgh and help them, through living out their creativity, to become responsible and caring member of the society.

Mission Statement:

The Toonseum operates under the rules of the following mission:

“The mission of the Toonseum is to celebrate the art of cartooning. Our goal is to promote a deeper appreciation of the cartoonists and their work through hands on workshops, community outreach, cartoon oriented educational programming and exhibitions of original cartoon art.”

(“Toonseum About Us”, last modified 9th Nov. 2015,

According to the information on its own Website the Toonseum sees itself primarily as an art museum dedicated to comics and cartoons. Although there are a lot of exhibits and activities for children and teenagers it is not purely a children museum. The goal of the museum is to function as a step in between an art museum and a children museum. Children and Teenagers shall be introduced to the arts through characters they love and with whom they can identify themselves. Therefore the Toonseum does not want to be understood as typical art museum. It sees itself more as a hybrid version of a museum that incorporates several types of museums and other cultural community institutions. The mission itself can be divided into two main aspects. First of all the goal is to achieve a deeper appreciation of cartoons as a form of art. Being part of a relatively young pop-culture cartoons, among other art forms like Hip Hop or Graffiti Art, did not get the attention and appreciation they deserve for a long time. They traditionally struggled to be taken seriously.[3]


[1] „Toonseum bout Us“, last modified 9th Nov 2015, http://www͘toonseum͘org/about_us͘html

[2] „Rob Rogers bout“, last modified 14th Nov͘ 2015,

[3] “Toonseum bout Us”, last modified 9th Nov. 2015,

Excerpt out of 19 pages


The Toonseum in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. A place to explore the world of Comic Books
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Public History, Toonseum, Comic, Museum, Pittsburgh
Quote paper
Fabian Lukas (Author), 2015, The Toonseum in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. A place to explore the world of Comic Books, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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