“Disney Art From Private Collections” Exhibition Debuts in North Texas Exclusively at the Arlington Museum of Art
By Amy Schultz, Arlington Museum of Art
Posted on June 23, 2022, June 23, 2022

Editor's Note: This article was originally published June 2, 2022. The story was updated June 23, 2022, to include a Culture Buzz episode detailing the Disney Art from Private Collections exhibit.

In partnership with long-time Walt Disney Animation Studios artist and Disney Legend Andreas Deja, the Arlington Museum of Art announced today its 2022 Summer exhibition: Disney Art from Private Collections.

The exhibition opens to the public June 11. A private opening reception for members, sponsors and special guests will be held on June 10. Starting today, the public can reserve tickets to see the exhibition through the museum’s website, arlingtonmuseum.org.

The extensive private collection of Deja includes decades of work by three of Disney’s most talented and prolific animators: Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Deja himself, who oversaw the creative development of characters including the villainous Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, and Scar in The Lion King.

Disney Art from Private Collections features almost 250 original animation sketches and cels, character studies, storyboards, and concept drawings from Disney animated films including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Bambi, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Aladdin, and more.

An accompanying exhibit showcases more original works by Deja, including independent projects like his coming short film Mushka about a young girl and her tiger, animated in a colored pencil style.

“When the Arlington Museum of Art asked me if I was interested in an exhibition that would feature my work from the Disney Studios, as well as some personal art, I felt flattered and excited,” Deja said.

A lifelong fan of Disney animated films, Deja was hired by Disney in 1980. In his early years at the studio, he sought mentorship from seven of the then-living Nine Old Men, who were hired by Walt Disney himself and rose to high levels of artistic leadership within the company. Deja’s enthusiasm for their tutelage fueled his interest in collecting their work.

“It is my great pleasure to exhibit the work of Disney animators who came before me,” Deja said. “Artists like Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston have inspired me my whole life through characters they animated for classic films like Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and The Jungle Book. Their original drawings give viewers an insight into the depth of their character analysis and draftsmanship.”

Chris Hightower, President and CEO of the Arlington Museum of Art, says that visitors can expect a unique and immersive experience as they explore the exhibition.

“We want Disney Art from Private Collections to fill visitors with the same kind of wonder and joy they feel for their favorite Disney films,” Hightower said. “To create this kind of engaging experience, the museum is borrowing from the techniques animators use when they’re telling a story. Throughout the exhibition, we’ll share backstories, build in elements of surprise, create drama, and give visitors ways to interact, play, and learn.”

In addition to the exhibition, the Arlington Museum of Art is planning a number of programs, events, and activities for children and adults—including a Disney animated film series—that will take place throughout the exhibition, which runs through September 4, 2022.

“We’ve really been inspired by the team at The Walt Disney Family Museum,” Hightower said. “They’ve helped us imagine our own wonderful world of experiences right here in North Texas to accompany Disney Art from Private Collections exhibition.”

Deja hopes visitors to the AMA exhibition will discover that animation is a very personal form of artistic expression.

“Traditional animation requires a great number of drawings for the purpose of bringing a character to life,” Deja said. “No computer will help you in this quest; it is only you and many blank sheets of paper. The artist’s goal is not only to move drawings, but more importantly, to move audiences.”

Ariel from the Little Mermaid

Arlington Museum of Art, Downtown Arlington
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