2021 presented unique challenges and opportunities as we continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud of the work we accomplished this year in both virtual, physical, and hybrid environments including serving researchers, providing access to our museum exhibits, cataloging our collections, and adapting our teaching and educational programming. These difficult times have emboldened us to explore new methods of providing service to our patrons and communities.
Year in Review
Despite limited on-site staffing, we opened a new exhibit to the public in January: Into the Swamp: The Social and Political Satire of Walt Kelly’s Pogo. Given the pandemic restrictions, we wanted to do all that we could to allow this rich exhibit to reach far beyond our gallery walls, so we produced a Pogo Exhibit Virtual Tour, enriched by guest cameos from Jake Tapper, Lynn Johnston, Ben Sargent, Jeff Smith, Garry Trudeau, Jan Eliot, and Bill Watterson. This video, as well as other BICLM programming, is available on The Ohio State University Libraries YouTube page.
In June, we opened another popular exhibit, The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons, guest curated by Brian Walker. This exhibit was the perfect salve for a difficult year, showcasing beloved cartoon dogs throughout comics and animation history with nostalgia, humor, and heart-warming tales. We were thrilled to welcome guests to our first in-person program since the pandemic, which featured an outdoor event with a chalk artist, therapy dogs from Buckeye Paws, and activities for kids provided by Scholastic Books. The Dog Show featured unique collaborations for programming, including a partnership with Ohio State’s Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education for a virtual panel discussion on dog behaviors depicted in the exhibit through the lens of animal science experts, as well as a virtual pup portrait workshop for kids with cartoonist Nomi Kane.
We also partnered with Ohio State’s Urban Arts Space in downtown Columbus on the exhibit Side Effects: Paintings by Patrick McDonnell, the public premiere of large-scale comics-inspired abstract paintings by the beloved MUTTS artist. The exhibit included a section of influences culled from the BICLM collections, and a catalogue is available to purchase at Mutts.com.
Just last month, we installed two exciting new exhibits: Power Lines: Comics and the Environment and Dark Laughter Revisited: The Life and Times of Ollie Harrington, which will be on display until May 8, 2022.
We participated in the sixth Cartoon Crossroads Columbus (CXC) festival in October with virtual, in-person and hybrid events. BICLM sponsored a virtual panel on Counterpoint editorial cartoons with Nick Anderson and Chip Bok and a talk with Chicago cartoonist Bianca Xunise, as well as our in-person reception and program with The Dog Show curator Brian Walker. At the start of the semester, we co-sponsored a virtual talk with Kewa cartoonist Ricardo Cate, creator of Without Reservations, the only Native cartoon appearing daily in a mainstream newspaper.
A hearty and heartfelt thanks to all of our amazing friends and donors for all of your support, from gifts of collections materials and funds to tuning into our events and sharing our posts on social media. We appreciate it all!
Lastly, some notes about Team BICLM: Congrats to Caitlin McGurk, who achieved tenure in 2021. A sad goodbye and huge thanks to Marilyn Scott, who retired in November, after working as our Assistant Curator for over twenty years. Thanks also to Kay Clopton, our Mary P. Key Diversity Resident Librarian for Cultural Diversity Inquiry, who will complete her four-year appointment at the end of 2021. We will miss you both!
Wishing you peace and good health this holiday season,
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum Team