In appreciation of a $7 million donation from the Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees voted to rename the Cartoon Research Library. The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum will be relocated to Sullivant Hall after renovation is completed in 2013.
Currently, the Cartoon Library and Museum is in the Wexner Center for the Arts. The renovated Sullivant Hall was considered the “most appropriate” new home for the library, which has become cramped, said Jane Carroll, a spokeswoman for University Development.
“The library is completely out of space, so having additional storage space will be very beneficial,” said Lucy Shelton Caswell, professor and founding curator of the library and museum. “We also will have three separate museum-quality galleries, which will increase the number of exhibits we can do each year and allow us to share more of our treasures with the public. The greatest advantage, however, will be increased visibility. At the present time, it is challenging to locate us.”
The library’s rededication is named after Billy Ireland, an Ohio native who began working with The Dispatch in 1898. His weekly full-page feature, “The Passing Show,” began in 1908.
“Billy Ireland was a Columbus celebrity during his lifetime,” Caswell said in a statement. “He enjoyed a national reputation and his work is still delightful to read. This is a fitting honor for a great cartoonist. We look forward to sharing his work with a new generation of readers.”
Ireland’s cartoons helped shape Columbus in the early 1900s, Carroll said.
“A lot of the development that happened along the river downtown was due to his editorial cartoons,” Carroll said. “He discussed important issues relating to civic-mindedness.”
The Sullivant Hall renovation project is estimated to cost $20.6 million. The university will be providing $6 million toward the project. The rest of the cost will come from private funding, Carroll said.
In addition to the donation made by the Graves Foundation, the library and museum has also received a $3.5 million donation from Jean Shultz, who set up the Shultz Challenge. Shultz donated an initial $1 million to the project and has agreed to match any donations, dollar for dollar, up to $2.5 million.
The move aims to make the library and museum more accessible to the public, Carroll said.
“The Cartoon Library and Museum is an amazing treasure on campus,” Carroll said. “Students, faculty and the general public will be able to come in and see the collection. It is so much more than the surface level ideas about what a cartoon is. They are incredible works that can shed light on American life.”
Another benefit of the move will be that it shares space in the building with the Department of Dance, said OSU President E. Gordon Gee.
“The Graves Foundation has made a critical investment to enhance the learning environment for students, faculty and visitors from around the world,” Gee said in a statement. “The revitalized Sullivant Hall will be a fitting home to two university treasures — the top-ranked Department of Dance and the world-renowned Cartoon Library and Museum. Naming the latter in Billy Ireland’s honor is a fitting tribute to a remarkable Ohioan.”
Caswell also looks forward to the benefits of sharing Sullivant Hall.
“Thus far, it has been a pleasure to work with the Department of Dance, and I expect that to continue,” Caswell said. “We hope to be able to explore areas of mutual interest.”
The new Cartoon Library and Museum needed to be located on the ground floor because of the weight of the collection, which is the world’s largest collection of comics and cartoons, Carroll said.
According to the Cartoon Library and Museum Web site, cartoons.osu.edu, the collection is comprised of more than 450,000 original cartoons, 36,000 books, 51,000 serial titles, 3,000 linear feet of manuscript materials and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and tear sheets. The collection was established in 1977, when it was housed in two converted classrooms in the Journalism Building. The museum has worked to build its collection mostly through gifts.
A large part of the museum’s success is because of Caswell’s “guidance and vision” in the past 32 years, Carroll said.