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California Vacation 2011 - Day 14: Cartoon Museum


Still catching up on vacation reports. This entry is about Thursday, January 20th.

This was my seventh trip to San Francisco, but the first time we actually managed to visit the Cartoon Art Museum on Mission Street, even though it was on our list every single year. The name is a bit misleading, it's more about political comic strips than about animation, but they show some real treasures, like an original Calvin & Hobbes painting. We
were lucky, their special exposition was about Warner Brothers cartoons and they had some really interesting roughs, cells and backgrounds from various WB artists on display. Comparing Maurice Noble's original watercolor backgrounds with what rushed digital "restoration" of the video transfers now running on TV made of it drives tears in my eyes. Let's hope that the paintings will survive at least another 60 years so coming generations of animation enthusiasts will be able to compare.

On the way to the museum we discovered the Yerba Buena Gardens with the Martin Luther King Jr memorial: an impressive water fountain in the form of a waterfall. "We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream." And like a mighty stream the waterfall sounds, indeed. The gardens are a relaxing, calm island in the middle of a busy and loud city.

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling through China Town, but didn't find much to buy.

For dinner we went to the Walzwerk, an East German themed restaurant which I can highly recommend (as if this were necessary with the documentary about it almost continuously running on German TV). The food is excellent, they have Köstritzer beer on tap, and run by a really lovely German lady.

Comments 10 years, 11 months ago

I went to the cartoon art museum back in 2007 and 2009, and enjoyed it immensely on both occasions. The last time I went there, they had an exhibition featuring original works of art from The Totoro Forest Project Charity Auction. This featured works from various animators, cartoonists and illustrators inspired by the concept of Totoro. Most of the artwork was sold at auction within Pixar for the Totoro No Furusato National Fund (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Japan's Sayama Forest, an urban forest located just outside of Tokyo. It's this forest that is said to be the inspiration for the film My Neighbor Totoro. It was a fantastic exhibit, with some wonderful ideas and concepts around Totoro and forest guardians. Unfortunately there was no guide book or anything else associated around the exhibition itself, and the one book they have made is currently out of print so it's unlikely I'll be able to see those works again. :(

But the museum is a fantastic place, and certainly on my must-see list as well when I'm in San Francisco. :)

Link | Reply 10 years, 11 months ago

"as if this were necessary with the documentary about it almost continuously running on German TV"
Actually.... before Furvan told me about it last weekend I had never heard about the place. Seems whenever I switch on the TV stuff like that is long gone and I get a rerun of "A world without humans" (every frickin' time).

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