Lucas Klap, 9, and Adam Husted, 10, pulled carrots and potatoes and heads of lettuce from a play garden and greenhouse inside the Museum of York County Friday morning and got a sneak peek at a new exhibit.
The garden is one feature of "Peanuts...Naturally," a traveling exhibit showcasing how the Peanuts gang, Charles Schulz’s memorable comic strip characters, have for decades been exploring nature and the human impact on it.
Interactive exhibits allow visitors to draw messages in constellations, see how a wind turbine increasing in speed provides electricity, build snow flakes, reflect on their lifestyle choices and learn a few strategies for conserving electricity and water in their homes.
And, of course, share a chuckle after reading the characters’ adventures stripped across the walls.
The exhibit, which touches on themes including “the web of nature,” birds, gardening, recycling and the universe, turns the educational into an experience that is both “fun and funny,” said Cate Crane, the museum’s education director, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
The two Mount Gallant Elementary School fourth graders replanted the play vegetables before heading down the hall to a classroom, where they would learn how to draw cartoon characters.
This spring and summer, the museum will offer camps on drawing cartoons and developing stories and characters for comics, and on various nature topics explored through the exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 3.
Lucas and Adam look forward to returning to the exhibit populated by the characters of a comic strip they both read.
Snoopy, who’s lying atop his doghouse in the exhibit, is the best character, they agreed.
“He’s really funny because he’s a dog but he does things a human might do,” Adam said.
The exhibit, sponsored by The Herald, Becca and Harry Dalton, Elizabeth D. Patrick, Kathy and Larry Wilson and the Catawba Animal Clinic, is on loan from the Charles Schulz Museum and Research Center in California. It cost $10,000, plus shipping and related expenses.
On Friday, Snoopy and Woodstock – played by Evan Cooper, 6, and Gracie Morgan, 4 – served as the Peanuts ambassadors and cut the ribbon to the exhibit.
“Comics and newspapers have been together for as long as we can remember,” said Debbie Abels, president and publisher of The Herald. “And you can certainly argue that the Peanuts comic strip has been the best and most loved of them all and that’s because its universally appealing.”
“There’s something in Peanuts for everybody. Schulz chose to send important messages through his strip,” but did it in ways that readers could “chuckle about but still get the message.”
“I think it’s great,” Evan said after playing with the interactive exhibits. “I like the science things.”
Annie Small and her husband, George Richard, Rock Hill residents who own a marketing, management and leadership consulting business, described their life-long personal connection to the Peanuts comic strip while touring the exhibit.
“I used Peanuts as a way to connect people spiritually with reality,” said Richard, a former U.S. Air Force chaplain. “Schulz connected with me on a basic level.”
The things Schulz would write about in the strip, he said, “were things I was doing.”
Richard recalled a familiar feeling after reading a strip:
“Oh my goodness, he got me this time.”