Last week my sister and I visited ACMI to check out their newest exhibition – Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney's Classic Fairy Tales.
From the ACMI website: Dreams Come True is a rare opportunity to see original concept art, story sketches, drawings, maquettes and final frame cels from some of the Walt Disney Studios' most celebrated animated films. An Australian exclusive, the exhibition features artworks from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog, and Disney's latest animated feature, Tangled.
Walt Disney began adapting fairy tales for animation in the 1920s, inspired by the traditional tales of the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen. The exhibition explores developments in story and animation techniques and showcases the work of artists such as Mary Blair, Kay Nielsen, Eyvind Earle and Glen Keane.
I found it fascinating to see the way early pencil sketches and concept art turned into Disney characters we know and love, and the way certain characters developed through the pre-production stages (like Snow White, who at one point was looking extremely Bettie Boop-ish). They also had some gorgeous books of European fairy tales on display from the Disney family collection (so lovely!), as well as scenes from the films on display. I was especially excited to look at The Little Mermaid portion of the display, as that was my favourite Disney film as a child (I broke our video). I also really liked reading about the first female Disney animators like Retta Davidson and Mary Blair.
Whilst being Disney-centric, obviously this exhibition attracts a lot of parents and prams – though I do think from my experience, that it’s not really the kind of thing I’d take a young child to, purely because it’s predominantly made up of sketches and notes, which may not hold the attention of younger visitors (when we were there I heard one young girl ask her mum when it was “going to start” haha). Still, it's definitely an enjoyable experience for anyone who grew up on a steady diet of Disney animation.
For more information about the Dreams Come True exhibition, and to buy tickets check out the ACMI website.