The Ohio State University’s archives of comics-related material is one of the greatest collections of comics history and art on the planet. And now it’s getting a name and a renovated home, thanks to a grant from a relative of early 20th century cartoonist Billy Ireland. Read on:
The Ohio State University Board of Trustees today approved the naming of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum in recognition of a $7 million gift from the Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation to support the renovation of Sullivant Hall, an historic building located at a main gateway to the university’s campus.
The project is estimated to cost $20.6 million and will be completed in 2013, at which time Sullivant Hall will house both the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum and The Ohio State University Department of Dance. “The Graves Foundation has made a critical investment to enhance the learning environment for students, faculty, and visitors from around the world,” said President E. Gordon Gee. “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.”
The Elizabeth Ireland Graves Foundation is managed by Billy Ireland’s granddaughter, Sayre Graves, and is based out of Bremo Bluff, Va.. The Columbus Dispatch hired Ireland, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, shortly after his high school graduation in 1898. A self-taught cartoonist, he worked for the Dispatch until his death in 1935 and was known both for his editorial cartoons and for his Sunday feature The Passing Show. An exhibition of Ireland’s work will be held at Ohio State in the fall 2010. “Billy Ireland was a Columbus celebrity during his lifetime,” according to Lucy Shelton Caswell, the cartoon library and museum’s founding curator. “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.” Established in 1977 with a founding gift of the Milton Caniff Collection, the Cartoon Library and Museum was housed in two converted classrooms in the Ohio State’s Journalism Building. Since then, Caswell has built it into a widely renowned collection that is a destination for both cartoon researchers and fans from around the world.
Thousands of donors have contributed to the collection, with gifts ranging from one item to tens of thousands. With the recent addition of the IMCA’s extensive permanent collection, the Cartoon Library and Museum now houses more than 400,000 works of original cartoon art, 35,000 books, 51,000 serial titles, 2,800 linear feet of manuscript materials, and 2.5 million comic strip clippings and newspaper pages.
Now the world’s largest collection of cartoon art and comics, the Cartoon Library and Museum is currently located in the basement of the Wexner Center for the Arts http://cartoons.osu.edu/. Its new, permanent home in Sullivant Hall will expand its space from its current 6,808 square feet to more than 40,000 gross square feet of space storage and exhibit space allowing more of the collection to be displayed and accessible to the public.
Sullivant Hall also will provide greatly enhanced facilities for Ohio State’s top-ranked dance program, including state-of-the-art dance facilities, upgraded administrative offices, and an upgrade of the existing auditorium.