Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit comes to MSI

Charlie Brown and the gang, looking happy.�

Charlie Brown and the gang, looking happy.�

The phrase Good Grief Charlie Brown! always seemed like an apt description of the popular comic strip's appeal. Like the best, most classic beacons of children's literature, there's a healthy dose of sadness to the Peanuts strips—a poignant sort of cyncism, reflected in the wistful Vince Guaraldi-penned soundtrack to the TV specials.

What's so great about the new Museum of Science and Industry exhibit "Charlie Brown and the Great Exhibit,"on loan from the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Californiais that it contextualizes some of the melancholy. What effect, you wonder, did fighting in World War II have on young Schulz? Does it explain one of Schulz's Peanuts strips from the '70s —where Charlie and Franklin, one of the lesser-known members of the gang and the only black character, talk about their fathers who fought in the Korean War and Vietnam War respectively? Does the fact that Schulz fell in love with a red-haired woman named Donna Johnson, who ended up marrying someone else, explain the origins of the Little Red-Haired Girl Charlie Brown loves so much, who never loves him back?

While the exhibit doesn't dwell on these questionsit's geared towards kids after allit does allows the viewer to engage in some of that 'good grief,' the kind of pensiveness you feel everytime you hear the kids sing, "Christmastime is Here."

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)