I’m a huge fan of Disney art and history. In fact, the art is probably my favorite thing about Disney. I have a pretty decent collection of Disney art in various forms, and it’s honestly one of the things that drew me most to the stories, parks, and culture of it growing up. Plus, some of the legendary Disney artists are some of my all-time favorite artists, especially Mary Blair. When I heard that a Disney art exhibit was coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I knew I needed to go. Since I’m only about an hour away from the city, and I have most Fridays off from school and work, I picked a Friday with nice weather in mid-February to spend a day in the city and visit the Inspiring Walt Disney exhibit.
The Met’s first-ever exhibition exploring the work of Walt Disney and the hand-drawn animation of Walt Disney Animation Studios will examine Disney’s personal fascination with European art and the use of French motifs in his films and theme parks, drawing new parallels between the studios’ magical creations and their artistic models.
After I visit, I have to say that it was definitively one of my favorite art exhibits that I’ve ever been to. While Disney art does take up a large part of my heart, the organization and execution and the exhibit was so phenomenal that it was incredibly easy for even non-Disney fans to enjoy it. Inspiring Walt Disney perfectly linked Rococo source material that influenced so many of Walt Disney Animation’s most famous films, tying the actual original sources (yes, there were actual 18th century paintings and statues throughout the exhibit) to original concept art, sketches, animation cells, and even completed frames and clips from the movies we’ve come to know and love.
When you walk into the exhibit, you’re first greeted by a collection of original movie posters for some of Walt Disney Animation’s most famous films, as well as some figurines from Walt’s collection and the history of where Walt got his inspiration for many of his early films. The first real room in the exhibit focuses on The China Shop short, as well as Snow White and Cinderella. There was a giant wall with the animation frames of the famous dress transformation- it was truly so magical! The next rooms mostly focused on Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, though there were also mentions of Tangled, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and even a section dedicated to Disney Castles with some art from the Disney Parks.
Beauty and the Beast probably had the most artifacts present. There was so much concept art, as well as character guide sheets for Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Chip. Almost all of the character art was paired with sculptures, candelabras, vases, and other tangible items that inspired the characters- the connections were so easy to see! Outside of the Beauty and the Beast exhibit, two of my favorite things to see were the original storybooks used in the openings of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Sleeping Beauty. It was so incredible to see everything up close; the small details are beautiful beyond imagination.
After making it through the exhibit, I spent some time wandering around the rest of the museum since I hadn’t been in quite a few years and grabbed a bite at the American Wing cafe (while pricey, it was yummy). Before leaving, I had to make a stop at the Met store to see what merchandise they had available from the Disney exhibit. There was an exhibit guide and a bunch of books, all of which I added to my Amazon list since they were pretty large and I didn’t want to carry them around the city, as well as t-shirts, totes, a postcard pack, some prints, and a few posters. I personally bought the postcards since I have a (mostly Disney) postcard collection already in my room, as well as a Mary Blair print of the Cinderella carriage transformation scene.
If you’re interested in visiting this truly magical exhibit, you’ll have until March 6th to visit it at the Met on Fifth Avenue. Unfortunately, no pictures or videos are allowed inside the exhibit, so you’ll have to go visit and experience it for yourself. If you’re unable to make it, the exhibition guide is available on Amazon* to purchase and is filled with tons of images and history to learn about.
Have a terrific day!
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