Even if your kids didn’t grow up reading Archie comics, chances are they’re familiar with some other cartoon characters including Superman, Puss in Boots, and the cast of Toy Story. We can’t imagine a better way to let your kiddos get up close and personal to some of their fave cartoon characters than at the Cartoon Art Museum, which packs a fantastic comic-book punch for your aspiring artists. Thanks to generous donations from the Charles M. and Jean Schulz Fund, we can support the great efforts of these incredible artists and help preserve their work for future generations. With over 6,000 pieces of original cartoon and animation art, a comprehensive research library, and five galleries of exhibition space, your kids will leave inspired to create their own mad genius stories and illustrations.

Tips for before you go: For optimal viewing, we recommend taking children who are at least five years old to this museum. Bring along your sketchbook or just gather ideas for future illustrations. The museum is relatively small, so you might plan on touring nearby Yerba Buena rooftop gardens and playground after your visit.

What to do: The museum is divided into separate exhibits including display cases of the artist’s early doodlings and sketches as insight to his or her creative process. Continue along the gallery space and you’ll discover examples of storyboards, concept art, and sketches that will further illuminate your little ones on how an artist creates a comic book, cartoon, book, film, or graphic novel.

The current line-up of shows is nothing to sniff at: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz showcases work from the early days in serialized newspaper format (1908) to present day by Eric Shanower. Frank Baum might find this yellow brick road meandering over the past century and inspired by his beloved series would give the tin man a heart, the lion his courage, and would blow the scarecrow’s mind!

Image Comics: A Twentieth Anniversary Celebration features over forty pieces of original art spanning twenty years including works from all seven Image founders Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino.

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The Art of Dreamworks’ Puss in Boots will have your kid shouting “Puss… in boots” with delight. The behind-the-scenes exhibit provides a dramatic overview of the development of the Academy Award-nominated film.

Don’t miss: The museum also offers book signings, lectures, cartoon classes and workshops, after-school programs, and a fantastic bookstore filled with fan-favorite books and artwork.

Nearby dining: Just a short walk from the museum, Mel’s Diner is a cool spot for rockin’ old-fashioned fun. Listen to jukebox tunes while you chow down on hamburgers, milkshakes and fries. This throwback to fifties Americana is sure to be a hit with your kids.

Take your children to Buca Di Beppo for Italian cuisine served family-style and passed around the red-checkered tables in a lively atmosphere. Bring a big appetite to share pizza, salads, and giant bowls of pasta- perfect for your picky eaters.

Cartoon Art Museum
655 Mission Street
San Franciso, Ca
415-227-8666
Online: cartoonart.org/

Free admission for children under 6. General admission is $7 and $3 for children 6-12. Open Tuesday- Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm. Closed on Monday. Pay-what-you-wish day is on the first Tuesday of the month.

–Nicki Richesin

photos courtesy of Cartoon Art Museum’s Facebook page