This exhibition has ended.

Exhibition Outline

Approximately 500 pieces of artwork will be on display in Japan to reveal the nearly 90 years of Disney's animation history from Steamboat Willie (1928), the world's first feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Dumbo (1941) and other classics, to Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016) and the latest Moana (2016). The exhibition will feature original drawings, paintings, sketches, concept art and more behind the scene materials.

The exhibition concept is "the magic of animation" (the moment when life is given). Disney animation has created various "magic" or "techniques" to give life to their characters from making full use of imagination to incorporating each era's latest technology. Just like Pinocchio, who through magical enchantment came to life, we will reveal some of the many techniques used to bring beloved Disney characters to life.

This exhibition will be a unique occasion to experience the of magic of Disney animation, and delve into the world of talented artists and productions teams behind the films; how they create characters that are realistic, relatable and endearing. The majority of the artworks in the exhibition have never been seen before in Japan. This is a rare opportunity to peak behind the scenes at the Walt Disney Animation Studios - the use of imagination and technological innovation will surely enthrall both children and adults.


1. Life Starting to Move: Dynamic Characters

A zoetrope lets us see moving pictures when we peer into the rotating cylinder through the slits, and a flip book makes the pictures drawn inside seem to move when we flip through the piled-up pages. The roots of animation began with these simple “delights of motion.” In 1928, Walt Disney released Steamboat Willie. The history of the “magic of animation”, breathing life into a single picture, started here.

2. The Start of the Magic: Persistent Research and Days of Development

At the same time as creating Mickey Mouse shorts, to which he added music that matched the movements of the characters and animation, Walt Disney began producing the Silly Symphony shorts, in which the characters and animation were created to match the music. Through these two series, he refined his magic of breathing life into paper, unique to animation, through trial and error with the techniques and expressions he used for drawing and images. Then, he made a huge gamble based on this know-how, and fought to create the world’s first feature-length animated movie in color.

3. The Expansion of the World of Disney: The Masters of the Magic

Going into the 1950s, Disney created successive masterpieces, including Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty. Here, a body of works with different art styles created by up-and-coming artists, such as Mary Blair and Eyvind Earle, and veteran animators, in particular the Nine Old Men, further expanded the worldview of Disney’s works.

4. To a New Dimension: Innovations Brought About by Digital Techniques

The hit of The Little Mermaid was the catalyst for Disney Animation’s magnificent revival, and a second golden age. From that moment on, the company gradually incorporated digital techniques, starting with CG, and pursued a presentation unique with digital methods. Gorgeous musical scenes enhanced by beautiful music supported the princesses or heroes. and captured the hearts of viewers.

5. A New Era of Life: Towards a Diverse Society and the Future of Earth

Toy Story, the world’s first fully 3D CG movie, was released in 1995. Animation had obtained a new magic: 3D CG. Since Disney and Pixar joined together in 2006, John Lasseter has been responsible for quality control as executive producer of both companies’ works. Their films have a strong tendency to show more social themes, including diverse values and the future of our world.

Venue scenery

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A Special Exhibition "The Art of Disney - The Magic of Animation"
April 8 (Sat), 2017 - September 24 (Sun), 2017
Special Exhibition Zone 1F, Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation)
Every Tuesday except May2, July 25, August 1, August 8, August 15, August 22, August 29
Miraikan (The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), Nippon Television Network Corporation, The Yomiuri Shimbun, WOWOW INC
Special Cooperation
The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd.
Presented by
The Walt Disney Animation Research Library