Santa Rosa’s Schulz Museum, Petaluma’s Rancho Obi-Wan win USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards

The Schulz Museum and Rancho Obi-Wan have won USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards. Results were announced Friday.|

At a glance

The top ten winners in the USA Today 10Best pop museum category are:

1. Mascot Hall of Fame, Whiting, Indiana

2. Comic-Con Museum, San Diego

3. The Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York

4. Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa

5. American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

6. OZ Museum, Wamego, Kansas

7. Doo Wop Experience Museum, Wildwood, New Jersey

8. Rancho Obi-Wan, west of Petaluma

9. The Neon Museum, Las Vegas

10. Museum of Broadway, New York City

See the list at 10best.com/awards/travel/best-pop-culture-museum-2024.

Snoopy and Luke Skywalker have long been stars, but new proof of their staying power arrived Friday.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa and Rancho Obi-Wan, a collection of “Star Wars” memorabilia west of Petaluma, have both placed in the top 10 in the 2024 USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for Best Pop Culture Museum.

The Schulz Museum placed fourth on the list, the result of national balloting, and Rancho Obi-Wan placed eighth.

“In true Charlie Brown fashion, we didn’t finish first,” said Gina Huntsinger, director of the museum. “But we will never stop trying to kick that football or win that baseball game! We are so grateful for the national recognition and being in fourth place.

“It all comes down to our fans, their love of the ‘Peanuts’ characters, and their respect for what Charles Schulz gave the world.”

Rancho Obi-Wan, home to “the world's largest Star Wars memorabilia collection,” was certified by Guinness World Records in 2014. Collector Steve Sansweet began building the collection in 1976, and the museum was opened in 1998 to house it.

“’We’re No. 8’ doesn’t have the same ring as ‘We’re No. 1,’” Sansweet joked, “but we’re happy to accept it. I’m very happy just to be considered.”

The Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Indiana, took first place, followed by the Comic-Con Museum in San Diego and the Strong National Museum of Play, devoted to the history and exploration of play, in Rochester, New York.

National balloting, with nominees provided by a panel of travel writers and experts, began in January, with a Feb. 12 deadline. Winners were announced online at noon Friday.

This was the first time the Schulz Museum had made the10Best pop museum list or been nominated, a museum spokesperson said.

Jean Schulz founded the Schulz Museum in 2002 to honor her late husband, Charles M. “Sparky” Schulz, creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, and celebrate cartooning as an art form. She is also on the board of investors for Sonoma Media Investments, The Press Democrat’s parent company.

In December, Schulz Museum recorded its highest attendance in 21 years, with almost 11,000 visitors from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31.

For more information on the museum’s exhibits and programs, visit schulzmuseum.org.

“Sparky” Schulz, as he was known to fans, friends and family, moved to Sonoma County in 1958. He died Feb. 12, 2000, in Santa Rosa at age 77.

By the time of his death, he had written and drawn “Peanuts,” which debuted in 1950, for nearly 50 years.

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5243. On X @danarts.

At a glance

The top ten winners in the USA Today 10Best pop museum category are:

1. Mascot Hall of Fame, Whiting, Indiana

2. Comic-Con Museum, San Diego

3. The Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York

4. Charles M. Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa

5. American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

6. OZ Museum, Wamego, Kansas

7. Doo Wop Experience Museum, Wildwood, New Jersey

8. Rancho Obi-Wan, west of Petaluma

9. The Neon Museum, Las Vegas

10. Museum of Broadway, New York City

See the list at 10best.com/awards/travel/best-pop-culture-museum-2024.

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