Past Exhibits

  • Dark Laughter Revisited: The Life and Times of Ollie Harrington Dark Laughter Revisited: The Life and Times of Ollie Harrington November 13, 2021 - May 8, 2022

    Throughout his career, Oliver “Ollie” Harrington (1912-1995) used his voice and artistic talents as a cartoonist to attack racial, economic and social injustice with razor-sharp wit and insight. Speaking from the perspective of a cartoonist of color, his commentary chronicles many of the events and issues that defined the 20th century, from segregation and apartheid, to war and poverty. Harrington’s life and career intersected with the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, the Black émigré community in Paris after WWII, and communist East Germany. Many of Harrington’s cartoons remain relevant and speak to problems that sadly are still unresolved in contemporary times. 

  • Power Lines: Comics and the Environment Power Lines: Comics and the Environment November 13, 2021 - May 8, 2022

    At the start of the 21st century, the term Anthropocene was coined to describe a new geological epoch defined by humanity’s transformation of the natural world.  Scientists have long known that human beings have a complex relationship to the world we inhabit. We survive and thrive thanks to the earth’s many resources, but we also cause irreparable harm to the planet. This exhibit surveys over 100 years of comics that depict the pleasures and dangers of human interaction with the environment. Comics have captured it all—including fears about pollution, the celebration of nature preserves, anger at the failures of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the recognition of the ways environmental destruction and global warming disproportionately affect people of color. 

    Curated by Jared Gardner and Elizabeth Hewitt. 

    No special opening event has been scheduled for this exhibit. Stay tuned for announcements about exhibit programs happening in spring 2022.

    Art by Peter Kuper from his graphic novel Ruins published by SelfMadeHero, 2015. Used with permission.

  • Into the Swamp: The Social and Political Satire of Walt Kelly’s Pogo Into the Swamp: The Social and Political Satire of Walt Kelly’s Pogo June 19, 2021 - October 31, 2021

    Walt Kelly’s newspaper comic strip Pogo was a platform for political satire and commentary using a motley group of swamp critters. Kelly tackled many of the political issues of the world in which he lived, from the Red Scare to civil rights, the environment, scientific exploration, and consumerism. We celebrate Walt Kelly and his social commentary through the joyous, poignant, and occasionally profound insights and beauty of the alternative universe that is Pogo. Working in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly drew on the legacy of earlier generations of newspaper cartoonists and then became a major influence on his successors.

    This exhibition primarily features art and archival materials from the Walt Kelly Collection, which was donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum by Selby Kelly. It also showcases artwork from the collection of Doonesbury cartoonist Garry B. Trudeau, which he generously donated to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in 2020.

    Co-curated by Lucy Shelton Caswell, Professor Emerita and Founding Curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, and Jenny E. Robb, Curator & Associate Professor.

    Image credit: Walt Kelly. Pogo, April 21, 1971. Publishers-Hall Syndicate. Reprinted by permission.

  • The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons June 19, 2021 - October 31, 2021

    Humans and dogs have a special relationship that goes back to our earliest encounters. There is evidence of an enduring graphic legacy of dogs in art. An 8,000-year-old petroglyph mural recently discovered in the Arabian Desert depicts dogs with leashes helping a hunter who is holding a bow. Dogs continue to take on roles as loyal companions, dedicated workers, and talented performers. Today, canines are also celebrated icons of popular literature, art, and culture.

  • Ladies First: A Century of Women's Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art Ladies First: A Century of Women's Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art January 30, 2021 - April 18, 2021

    [Party Scene] by Mary Fleener, 1982

    From the first female political cartoonist and the first female-created superhero, to the feminist voices that emerged from underground and alternative comics, Ladies First: A Century of Women’s Innovations in Comics and Cartoon Art  is a celebration of how women have defined the field of comics and cartoon art for generations.

    Women have always pushed cartoon art forward. A century ago, suffragettes transformed cartooning to champion their cause. In the booming newspaper comic strip era, artists like Jackie Ormes, Nell Brinkley, and Rose O’Neil found enormous success marketing and licensing their characters into products that would influence young people for decades. Contemporary artists carve out a place between fact and fiction to share deeply personal stories in underground comix, graphic novels and anthologies.

    Drawing on women’s voices from the margins to the center, this exhibit surveys women’s innovations in comics and cartoon art, tracking their contributions to the field. Included are works from early suffragette cartoonists, the queens of the comic strip pages, mainstream comic book artists, communities of self-published minicomics creators, and everyone in between.

    The exhibit features works by Nina Allender, Dale Messick, Edwina Dumm, Aline Kominsky Crumb, Nell Brinkley, Lynda Barry, June Tarpe Mills, Dori Seda, Barbara Brandon-Croft, Trina Robbins, Marie Severin, Rose O’Neil, Jackie Ormes, Lynn Johnston, Liana Finck, Wendy Pini, Kate Salley Palmer, Carta Monir, Alison Bechdel and dozens more.

    Ladies First ushers in the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment and calls attention to the transformative work of women artists in the field of cartooning then and now.

    Curated by Caitlin McGurk and Rachel Miller

    **Reservations are required, please visit to book your visit.**

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