San Francisco’s only museum devoted to comics, cartoons and animation is closing its doors at the end of June, but not forever.
The Cartoon Art Museum has occupied its 655 Mission St. location in the city’s South of Market neighborhood since 2001 but the property owner is demanding more than double the current rent — an untenable increase for the largely donation-reliant museum, curator Andrew Farago said today.
It moved there after five years at another Mission Street location only about two blocks away. The prominent location, within a block of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Museum of the African Diaspora, had art lovers constantly passing by its doors.
“We love the Yerba Buena arts district. Obviously we have a lot of company in terms of other museums right there in the neighborhood. It’s been great to us,” Farago said.
“We’ve helped build up that neighborhood and that neighborhood has helped build us up. We’re big fans but we realize part of building that neighborhood up means we may have priced ourselves out of it,” he said.
The museum’s board has been expecting the news it would have to close for some time now. It has been operating without a long-term lease for a few years and with the skyrocketing rents in San Francisco, the staff knew it was just a matter of time, Farago said.
“We could conceivably keep up with double the rent for a while but long-term that just isn’t going to be sustainable and not really a practical use of the funds that we raise,” he said.
They are actively searching for a new long-term location, but in the meantime plan to offer a full slate of events until closing in June and have special exhibitions planned during the closure, both locally and out-of-state.
The soonest they hope to find a new long-term home for the museum is in the fall, Farago said.
But to make sure that’s possible, the museum is going to have to keep its fundraising efforts up without a central location for visitors and much of its exhibits in storage.
They’re counting on the support of the local artistic community, longtime supporters and patrons, as well as people who may not have heard about the museum before.
“We’re prepared, but we’re going to need all the help we can get,” Farago said. “It’s not the first bump in the road that we’ve had … with the support of the community, we expect to weather this.”
The museum will host at least one fundraiser before closing — the “Comics 4 Comix” event on May 7 when the museum will host local standup comedians and hold an auction for original artwork.
There are also several remaining exhibitions planned. The museum will host a reception and book signing by Star Wars artist Jeffrey Brown at some point in June and the second annual Queer Comics Expo on June 8.
Aside from that, the museum will continue to take donations and sell memberships to raise capital to open in a new location. More information about upcoming exhibitions and ways to help can be found at the museum’s website at cartoonart.org.
Scott Morris, Bay City News
photo via McCall’s