Friday, February 16, 2018

Pittsburgh: Toonseum to Pursue New Mission, New Location

Toonseum board members, pictured from left to right: Deesha Philyaw, Marcel Walker, Brenna Painter and Yona Harvey

February 16, 2018

For Immediate Release

For more information:
Marcel Walker, Board President
Deesha Philyaw, Board Vice-President, Communications Committee Chair


Museum will leave Downtown, enter ‘Curtains Drawn’ period to champion comics as a force for social good

(PITTSBURGH) – Pop-up exhibits and lectures are among the events planned across the Pittsburgh region when ToonSeum, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art, moves from its Downtown location in search of a new home for its new mission: championing comics as a force for social good through education while cultivating more inclusive audiences.

With the closing of its doors at 945 Liberty Avenue, the museum will enter a year-long “Curtains Drawn” period of programming, fundraising, outreach and building partnerships.
WONDER WOMAN: VISIONS will be the final exhibition at the Downtown location. The public is invited to a party on the last day of the exhibition, Saturday, February 24 at 6 pm, to celebrate the fun past and bold future of The ToonSeum.

“Just as comics characters must be allowed to age, change or otherwise adapt to the world around them in order to remain relevant, so must the Toonseum,” said Board President Marcel Walker. “During Curtains Drawn, we will develop programming that reflects and includes more members of our community. More people of color, more women, more members of our LGBTQ communities, more families from neighborhoods across Pittsburgh, more students of all ages from more of our schools.”

Walker, voted 2017’s Best Cartoonist in Pittsburgh (CityPaper), said the ToonSeum’s board will continue to be very hands-on and collaborative. “We’ll be hiring an executive director and vetting additional board members; choosing a new location to align with our renewed commitment to the community; and finalizing details with funders who share our vision of a bold future for the ToonSeum. Working together with our dedicated ToonSeum staff, comics fans and the Pittsburgh community as a whole, we will tap into the power of this artform to make Pittsburgh the place where comics entertain, educate, and evolve.”

City of Asylum, the University of Pittsburgh and the Women and Girls Foundation are among the community partners Toonseum will work with in pursuit of its goals during the Curtains Drawn phase and beyond. These goals include:

- Cultivating a larger comics readership in Pittsburgh.
- Using comics-based educational initiatives to help develop higher literacy and critical-thinking skills for students in the region.
- Nurturing writers and artists, enabling them to develop and sustain professional careers in the comics arts.
-Enhancing the city’s growing national reputation as a haven and incubator for comics creators.

Yona Harvey, an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh, believes the evolution of the Toonseum could not have happened at a better time. “I’m fired up about this historic moment in which big events like the release of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther run and the subsequent Black Panther film have received so much attention,” she said.

Harvey, who co-wrote with Coates two Black Panther spin-off series and is one of Marvel Comics’ first African-American female writers, said she’s excited to serve as secretary on the ToonSeum’s board as the organization embraces a new mission and direction.

“ToonSeum will educate the public and promote creative work that shows rich, complicated images of the full spectrum comics readers,” she said. “We have a unique opportunity to connect with comics aficionados, people who haven’t read comics since they were kids and people who are simply curious about what’s happening now. The events we have planned aim to make everyone feel welcome—to ask questions and to foster their curiosities.”

2018 ToonSeum pop-exhibitions and other programming scheduled to date:

WONDER WOMAN: VISIONS Closing Party - Feb. 24, 6 pm, at the ToonSeum

Conversation with Evan Narcisse, Rise of the Black Panther comic book author and blogger - Presented in partnership with and sponsored by City of Asylum, May 7, 2018, at City of Asylum
3 Rivers Comicon - May 19 - 20, 2018

Ka-Blam! Friendraiser - May 2018

24-Hour Comics Day, an international celebration of comics creation - October 2018

Local Comic Shop Day - November 2018

Drawn to Home, a comic book featuring true stories of homeless youth, women and veterans - Funded by The Staunton Farm Foundation, Fall 2018

In addition to Walker and Harvey, the ToonSeum’s board includes two vice presidents: Brenna Painter, who works in guest services for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust; and Deesha Philyaw, a freelance writer and editor. The Board works closely with ToonSeum staff and with some former board members who remain involved in an advisory capacity.

About the Toonseum

Founded in 2007, ToonSeum, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art, is one of only three museums in the United States dedicated to exhibitions and educational programming focused on the history and cultural impact of the comic and cartoon arts. ToonSeum offers exhibitions covering the expanse of comics history, and workshops and presentations designed to educate the public about the artform. ToonSeum seeks to build a diverse audience for the comic and cartoon arts through intentionally inclusive programming and outreach. For general information and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 412.983.9255, email or visit

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