One giant leap for a cartoon icon called Snoopy: Lotte Museum show celebrates partnership of NASA and Peanuts
The Lotte Museum of Art in southern Seoul is on the lighter side with its exhibition entitled “To the Moon with Snoopy.”
The iconic beagle of the American comic strip Peanuts has more to do with space travel than many would realize. Executive Vice President Roz Nowicki of Peanuts Worldwide, which licenses the comic strip and its brand, came to Seoul on Oct. 15 to talk to the press about the 50-year partnership between Snoopy and NASA.
“In 1968, Snoopy was made the safety ambassador for NASA at a time when it was having some challenges with its astronauts program,” Nowicki said, referring to accidents that rattled the space agency in the mid-1960s.
“[NASA] thought Peanuts would put a nice human face on the moon mission. Snoopy also made kids excited about the space program,” she added.
“To the Moon with Snoopy” opens with a detailed history of the Peanuts character’s connection with NASA since Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the moon landing. In a room designed to look like a spaceship, this part of the show tells how the Apollo 10 crew gave the nickname “Snoopy” to their lunar module - because it will be “snooping around” the moon - and presents photographs of the time, including one of an astronaut petting a huge stuffed Snoopy doll just before embarking on a mission.
Lee Dong-gi and Yee Soo-kyung’s pieces are especially eye-catching as they merge Korean aesthetic styles with the American icon.
Lee, for example, chose to feature Snoopy alongside imagery from a work by Joseon era (1392-1910) painter Kim Hong-do, while Yee combined broken ceramic shards to create new shapes reminiscent of a dog and a giant moon.
Works by Korean graffiti artists are on show in the “Street Art and Snoopy” section.
In a move to attract more visitors, Lotte also enlisted the help of celebrities and fashion designers to paint their own Snoopy figures and design outfits for plush dolls.
Boy band Exo’s Chanyeol, singer-songwriter Seo Samuel and actress Ha Yeon-soo are among the stars whose painted Snoopys are prominently on display.
This collaborative exhibition was made possible with Peanuts Worldwide and the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which is dedicated to the late creator of the Peanuts series.
Schulz was extremely proud of his characters being associated with the moon shot and considered the partnership with NASA one of his greatest achievements.
“I suppose receiving the two Ruebens [a cartoon award] pleased me more than anything else, but I think having Snoopy go to the moon was the greatest triumph of all,” reads a 1986 quote from the artist in the Lotte exhibition. “This is because cartoonists have been sending their characters into space for years in their stories, but mine was the first character who really went to the moon.”
Thanks to Schulz’s passion, Snoopy is expected to be a prominent presence in America’s space program for a long time. Peanuts Worldwide and NASA signed a multi-year Space Act Agreement last year for the space agency to use the cartoon characters on a more extensive scale, and the Silver Snoopy pins, first launched in 1968, continue to be awarded to astronauts who make notable contributions to human space flight.
BY KIM EUN-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
“To the Moon with Snoopy” runs through March 1 at the Lotte Museum of Art in southern Seoul. Tickets are priced at 15,000 won ($12.90) for adults and 9,000 for children. Hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.