“Everything Animation” opens at Illinois museum

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Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Snoopy. The Simpsons. Big Bird and Elmo. Garfield. Animaniacs. Tweety. Scooby Doo. Raggedy Ann and Andy.

These and a multitude of other animated characters are now featured in a new exhibit in the Douglas County Museum in Tuscola, Illinois.

“Everything Animation” opens to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, September 11. The grand opening is free to the public, and refreshments will be served.

Hundreds of spin-off products from animated movies and television shows are on display, all on loan from the general public throughout the exhibit, which continues until December.

“Museum member Carol Erb of Sidney suggested the theme for the exhibit,” noted museum director and exhibit coordinator Lynnita Brown. “Perhaps we should call this exhibit Everything Animation #1. Hundreds of thousands of these types of products have been marketed through the years. We’ve only scratched the surface of what types of animated-related items exist in private collections throughout East Central Illinois.

“The showcases in the museum are full to the brim with some of the cutest, most ingenious ‘artifacts’ that members of the public have ever temporarily displayed in a Douglas County Museum exhibit. This is a really cute exhibit that old and young should not miss!”

Animation (a series of drawings that give the illusion of motion) has been in existence since prior to 1900. Animated short cartoons first became popular in the 1910s, and the remainder of the 20th century saw traditional animation come to life on the big screen and on televisions in the homes of millions of Americans. Today’s animated films are mostly computer-generated.

According to Brown, there is a strong East Central Illinois connection to some of the talented men and women who created animated characters familiar to all of us today: “Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of the most famous animators employed by Walt Disney, had mothers and grandparents who once lived in Champaign and Douglas Counties. Rosemary Buehrig, a Tuscola High School graduate, redesigned Snap, Crackle and Pop in the 1940s.”

Two showcases in the museum exhibit are dedicated to these three talented artists. Thomas and Johnston authored four books and they are on display. The Buehrig showcase features copies of Buehrig’s artwork, as well as a picture of the original three Rice Krispies elves. Buehrig also illustrated children’s books, and some of them are on display.

The “Everything Animation” exhibit in the Douglas County Museum also includes rare items such as an Ice Mickey loaned by Barbara Chumbley of Arcola; rare character soda bottles depicting Mother Goose, Peter Pan, Big 4 Beverages, etc., loaned by bottle collector Bruce Wood of Tuscola; a tin Disney Television Playhouse owned by Bruce Weatherford of Tuscola; and 1960s/70s Marx Mickey, Pinocchio, Goofy, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and other Disney figurines collected by Earl Gilmore of Atwood. Gilmore died in 1997, so his wife Joan is displaying her late husband’s Marx collection, as well as four large Disney banks, in his memory.

Among the thousands of other items on exhibit are Mickey items owned by Carol Beals of Tuscola, Mickey artwork owned by Barbara Chumbley of Arcola, M&M artwork by local artist Kevin Burke, sheet music loaned by Carol Erb of Sidney, Barbies loaned by Judy Martin and granddaughters of Tuscola, porcelain Little Rascals also owned by Martin, rare Disney items loaned by sisters Sherrie Spence Hoel and Janet Spence Butler of Tuscola, Raggedy Ann and Andy items owned by the museum, Ninja turtles and Shrek items loaned by David Settle of Bourbonnais, and Stuart Little and ET items loaned by Lynnita Brown of Tuscola.

Marissa Poole, 10, loaned a talking Belle doll, and her brother Michael, 13, loaned Iron Man items, transformers, and a Pikachu. The Doug, Sheila and Brandon Honn family of Tuscola brought in dozens of unique M&M characters for the exhibit, including sports M&M’s, a rare M&M calendar, clocks, vehicles, shower radios, bears and more. Jennifer “Jennie” Shoemaker Jordan of Thomasboro shared her collection of Garfield, including stuffed animals, dozens of Christmas ornaments, figurines, watches, etc.

There are several large collections in the exhibit. Eighteen-year-old Hayley Maxwell of Champaign County has collected Scooby Doo for years. Her showcases include Scooby Doo seasonal items, lamps, games, telephones, dolls, clocks, drinking glasses, prints and more. Ever heard of the “Animaniacs”? Kara Zeimet of Atwood has an amazing display of Animaniac and Pinky and the Brain figurines, puzzles, stuffed animals, clothing, Valentines, books, etc. Zeimet also brought in a large collection of Sesame Street items, including games, lunch boxes, toys, oversized Pez, dishes, etc.

The way to a child’s stomach is through animation, as seen in a display of food-related items that have been animated for commercials. Among them are Kool-aid, Oscar Mayer, Twinkie, Campbell Kids, McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Pepsi and Coke, Sugar Smacks, Tony the Tiger, M&Ms, the Jolly Green Giant and many more.

Jan Baker of Douglas County is exhibiting a huge collection of Snoopys that she has collected for many years. They include holiday Snoopys in the form of witches, pirates, pilgrims, Santas, campers, Easter Bunnies, etc. There are rare Belle dogs, Peanuts dishes, cookie jars, drinking glasses, snow globes, astronauts, Christmas ornaments, pull toys and much more.

Sarah Osborn of Arcola has a huge collection of Looney Tunes items, including rare ceramic figurines (each at least a foot tall) of Speedy Gonzalez, Scooby, Pepi LePew, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Daffy and many more. Her impressive display includes plates, figurines, books, toys, telephones, snow globes, framed prints and designed jackets.

Brian Martin of Champaign County is a huge Simpsons fan and has amassed a tremendous collection of Simpsons items that include games, figurines, pins, lunchboxes, jack in the boxes and more — all Simpsons favorites such as Grampa, Chief Wiggum, Homer, Mr. Bruns, Smithers, Bart, Duffman, Comic Book Guy and more. Visitors can expect to see all of these — plus Simpsons boxer shorts — in the exhibit!

The largest display in “Everything Animation” is courtesy of Disney collector extraordinaire Cindy Lou Weatherford Adania of Tuscola. A member of the prestigious Disney Parent Pulse panel, she told the museum staff, “The collection was building around me without me knowing about it — just from my love of all things Disney.” A collector of Disney since 1999, she has visited Disney World 15 times and has spent over 100 days in Disney theme parks.

Adania is the mother of five children. As a member of the Disney Parent Pulse panel, she joins other dedicated parent advisors who respond to Disney surveys and offer advice on new Disney products.

She is also a member of the Mickey Mom’s Club. Like all members of that club, she is enthusiastic about discovering and sharing the magic and wonderment of a Walt Disney World vacation. Adania also writes a Disney fan blog, “Without a Care in the World,” at dizzneemomma.com.

The massive Adania Disney collection on display in “Everything Animation” includes Disney Pixar items, Nemo, Toy Story, Snow White, Bugs Life, Pocahontas, Monsters Inc, Little Mermaid, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Lady and the Tramp, Winnie the Pooh, record albums, movie posters, cooking utensils, games, costumes, prints, toys and so much more.

The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Evening tours are available by calling the museum during regular business hours at (217) 253-2535 or Brown evenings at (217) 253-4620.

The Douglas County Museum is wheelchair accessible, and admission is always free. Visit the museum’s Web site at www.docomuseum.org.

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