It would hardly feel like Halloween or Christmas or Valentine's Day without a Charlie Brown holiday special popping up on your TV. And now, "Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit" opens at The Museum of Science and Industry, also perfectly timed to the holiday season.
The exhibit, created in partnership with the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., explores the life of the cartoonist and his famed comic strip and examines the evolution of the characters from their beginnings in the 1950s to the more recognizable versions of the '80s and '90s (did you know Charlie didn't always wear that zigzag shirt?).
A large part of the exhibit includes 100 reproductions of Schulz's work-although they might not be what you expect. The strips actually were drawn very large and shrunk down to fit the newspaper space, so each strip is about 2 feet wide and incredibly detailed.
Some of Schulz's personal items are on display in the re-creation of his studio, including one of his drawing tables, complete with a divot made from years and years of sketching.
However, Jeff Buonomo, manager of temporary exhibits for the museum, says he expects the highlight to be the walk-in replica of Snoopy's doghouse. The red structure was shown in many strips, and occasionally described, but never seen from the inside. Keep your eyes out for a pool table, shower and Van Gogh painting, all based on Schulz's words.
"Our mission is to inspire inventive genius in all our guests, by highlighting the creativity and inventive genius in Charles Schulz," Buonomo says.
To that end, kids can try out creative projects in an area called, naturally, "The Peanut Gallery." But beyond the basic drawing activities, there will be the chance to see them come to life via a zoetrope, a device that makes pictures seem animated.
And Buonomo hopes the activities, combined with Schulz's story, will inspire kids and adults alike to step away from the computer and engage with their own creativity.
"It's kind of a great lighthearted look at a man that's inspired us and left a piece of his legacy for everyone who's grown up with the characters," he says.
And maybe the next time Charlie Brown fills your TV screen, he'll help your family grow a little closer this holiday season.
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.