Through Jan. 3
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago
When you think of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang, chances are you call to mind things like that puny Christmas tree, futile attempts to kick a football and wild dancing to some pretty jazzy music. But after seeing “Peanuts ... Naturally” at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, you may start associating the classic comic strip with the great outdoors.
The timing for the new exhibit is perfect, considering The Peanuts Movie hits the big screen on Nov. 6. So before–or after!–you catch them in all their CGI glory, stop by the museum to see exactly what Charles Schulz had to say about the environment, ecology ... and the EPA.
“I think people may be surprised at how this form of art was able to address, in a clever way, some of the issues that are still important for us,” says Marc Miller, executive vice president of external affairs for the museum. “It's good to be reminded of that.”
And the reminders are like nothing you've ever seen. Kids will love diving into a replica of Woodstock's nest and seeing specimens of other birds and nests, playing inside a massive Great Pumpkin (“It's not like the pumpkin you'll carve at Halloween,” Miller says), and getting answers to their scientific queries at Lucy's Psychiatry Booth, which is staffed by museum scientists.
The exhibit also includes memorabilia from the 50-plus years of Schulz's work, such as strips featuring “Farmer Snoopy” at work outdoors and Charlie Brown's battle with the Environmental Protection Agency in the late 1970s. Miller hopes that seeing such iconic characters demonstrating concern about nature will inspire kids to engage with similar issues.
“Snoopy and Charlie were early environmentalists,” he says. “Whether your backyard is Snoopy's doghouse or a playing field or an apartment balcony, nature is all around us and we need to understand it better.”
And thanks to this exhibit, that important job just got a little more animated.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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