In my life, I have never felt more welcome, more at home, more with my own people than I do here at this conference in Belgium.
I feel as if I have known you all a lifetime in just a few days. Perhaps it is because of your welcoming spirit, but I suspect it is something more. It is because of our shared passion! Despite any cultural differences we all might have we share a love of cartoons and a respect for their impact on society and the world.
Despite our literal journey from different parts of the world, we each traveled the same figurative journey to get where we are today. We each had dreams of opening museums dedicated to cartoons. We each made personal sacrifices, long hours, and a great amount of work into making that idea a reality. Even with that exhausting journey just to open our museums we still get excited and invigorated when new ideas are presented to us. We recognize that this gathering presents many exciting opportunities! This passion and enthusiasm is something only a kindred spirit can truly understand.
When I left for the conference from my home in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, I posted the list of the many countries that would be attending. Many of my friends jokingly said “see what you can do about world peace!”
It was meant to be a joke but if there is one thing we know as cartoon museums and cartoonists, it is that there is truth and power in humor. While we did not bring about world peace here at the conference, we did build collaborations and friendships that span across oceans and differences.
Perhaps the first step to peace and brotherhood throughout the world is to educate one another. By sharing exhibitions from other countries and cultures that build on our common interest in cartoons we can playfully point out our many differences and learn from one another. By learning our differences perhaps we all learn, we are not so different after all. Our museums are all different, and yet all the same in our shared love of cartoons and efforts to preserve, educate and elevate the art form.
I look forward to sharing the exhibitions of your museums with our fans in the United States, I look forward to educating the American public about the many talented cartoonists from around the world whose work you represent, and most important I look forward to continued friendship and collaboration with each and every one of you.
ToonSeum, Pittsburgh, PA, USA