April 23 (Sunday) - July 9 (Sunday)
Evansville Museum 411 S.E. Riverside Drive Evansville
This exhibition interprets the career of longtime Evansville Courier cartoonist Karl Kae Knecht. Knecht’s career at the Courier spanned the years
This exhibition interprets the career of longtime Evansville Courier cartoonist Karl Kae Knecht. Knecht’s career at the Courier spanned the years 1906-1960 and his editorial cartoons chronicled much of what was happening in the city and the nation. Drawn from the collection of the Evansville Museum, community collections and private collections, the exhibition will also highlight other aspects of Knecht’s life, including his photography, civic involvements and a selection of the miniature elephants that he collected during his life.
Born in 1883 in Iroquois, South Dakota Territory, Knecht came to the Evansville Courier in 1906 after completing courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was in this year, that his editorial cartoons first appeared on the front page of the newspaper. Eleven years later he was appointed the paper’s first photographer. Today, thousands of his photographs documenting Evansville are in the collection of Willard Library.
In 1928, Knecht helped found Mesker Park Zoo. This occurred after the president of the American Circus Corporation offered Knecht a pair of lions. A year later, Knecht bolstered the fledgling zoo—Indiana’s first—with a successful fund drive to purchase an elephant for the new facility. The elephant, Kay, was named in honor of Karl Kae Knecht.
By 1949, Knecht officially became the dean of American editorial cartoonists with more years spent penning cartoons than any of his colleagues across the country. It was also in this year that he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning, and on July 21, 1954, Evansville celebrated Karl Kae Knecht Day.
On June 1, 1960, after 54 years at the paper and over 18,000 cartoons, Knecht retired. He remained in Evansville until his death in July of 1972, and he is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Today, his cartoons are in the archives of the University of Evansville and the Evansville Museum, and originals of his works are included in the collections of the presidential libraries of Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman and in the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California.