The Art of Disney at Peoria Riverfront Museum

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 11:22 AM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News) - The Peoria Riverfront Museum is now exhibiting Disney Magic within its walls. The Art of Disney Exhibit and Festival is now available to the public and shows an extremely rare look at some of the pieces that went into making three of the most important animated films ever made.

Along with the Exhibit, The Museum will host screens of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pinocchio, and Cinderella. These first three animated features were made by Walt Disney date back to 1937, 1940, and 1950 respectively.

The Exhibit included art, conceptual pieces, and original celluloid from the making of the three movies, all from the collection of Steve Spain., which included the work of conceptual artist, Mary Blair. Blair’s work was integral to the foundation of Cinderella, which was Disney’s first movie after World War II that largely shaped the Disney we know today.

The celluloid pieces, that are keyframe matched with the original backgrounds, are an incredibly rare look at how movies were made so many years ago.

“It focuses on Disney art original Disney sketches, cels, conceptual pieces that went into the achievement of some of the earliest and most important Disney films ever made.” Said Bill Conger, Curator of Collections & Exhibitions at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

The fact that the cells in this collection even exist is a miracle as most of them were discarded in the making of the movie, the cels being the tool to create the film rather than the art themselves.

“There’s really no need to keep them they were the residue of the process of creating the artwork. Except some of the artists really liked their work and so often, artists would keep some of their own.” Said Conger. The artists, most of whom were women, kept their artwork or found them amongst other discarded artwork and they eventually made their way into collectors’ hands. If the cel is keyframe matched with the correct background, the value and rarity skyrockets.

The screening of these three classic movies is also a rare treat considering how long ago they were released. The Giant Screen at the Peoria Riverfront Museum is the largest screen in the state of Illinois. This will give a unique, possible once-in-a-lifetime experience, to see the pillars of Disney animation in a movie theater. It is also a great learning experience for children.

“I think it’s great for kids to be exposed to these classics, especially to see them in a movie theater. Not a lot of these movies get seen in movie theaters anymore. They’re watched in the backseat of a minivan or on the home TV, so to see these and to see them put in the context of their importance to film history, I think is really important for kids to experience.” Said David Stief.

David Stief is the Theater and Media Manager at the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Along with the screenings, Disney Historian and Author J. B. Kaufman will give remarks before each movie and host a Q&A following each.

Snow White and Pinocchio will be shown on April 9th, Cinderella on April 10th.

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