Thursday, November 15, 2012

75 Years of Snow White on Display at the Walt Disney Family Museum

A new exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs officially opens today at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.  On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to preview the exhibit, which contains over 200 pieces of concept art, pencil sketches, cel setups, watercolor backgrounds, original posters and other items used in the production of the classic film.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic is housed in a separate two-story building behind the museum's main galleries. The building used to contain a basketball gymnasium in the historic Presidio.

On the second floor foyer, Walt Disney and Shirley Temple greet you with the special Oscar presented to Walt in 1939 for his achievements in making Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The award consists of a regular size Oscar, accompanied by seven little Oscars.

At Tuesday's preview, Walt's daughter and museum co-founder Diane Disney Miller was on hand with museum CEO Gabriella Calicchio to introduce the exhibition.

Said Calicchio, "For me, this exhibition is so special because it tells the story of the animation process, about this extraordinary film...But, what's really special to me is that it showcases the artistry that went into this film. There were some amazing artists that participated, and in this exhibition, you'll see amazing pieces of art."

Walt Disney once said, “Of all the characters in the fairy tales, I loved Snow White the best, and when I planned my first full-length cartoon, she inevitably was the heroine.”

The exhibition includes interactive kiosks that allow you to delve deeper into the making of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Charlie Chaplin, no slouch to comedy himself, once called Dopey "one of the greatest comedians of all time."

The exhibition takes you through the film scene-by-scene, often showing works-in-progress juxtaposed with the final product. Here, a cleanup drawing of the queen's transformation by animators Campbell Grant and Stan Quackenbush is presented with a video clip from the film.

Concept art by Samuel Armstrong of the hag in a rowboat is paired with two production cels.

While the exhibition does include some original production cels from the film, many of the cels were too fragile to transport to San Francisco, so reproduction cels were created at the Walt Disney Studios by its still active Ink & Paint department.

Diane Disney Miller (l.) views some artwork with exhibition curator and Walt Disney Animation Research Library creative director Lella Smith. In the next episode of The Mouse Castle Lounge, coming this weekend, I'll have interviews with Diane, Lella, Gabriella and an in-depth conversation with author J. B. Kaufman about the exhibition and his two new books about Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic will run through April 14, 2013.

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