The acclaimed “Once Upon a Time Walt Disney” exhibition that’s currently in Montreal won’t come to the United States, but it’s likely that a similar exhibit of Disney art will, says Lella Smith, director of the Disney Co.’s Animation Research Library.
The current show includes artworks that inspired Disney artists, including masterpieces by Albrecht Durer, William Blake and Gustave Moreau. Smith said those were borrowed from the Louvre Museum in Paris on condition that they would only be on display in two locations — a limit that’s aimed at reducing the possibility that they would be damaged.
The exhibit, organized by Bruno Girveau, curator at the Grand Palais museum in Paris, opened there last fall. It moved to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this month and will continue through June 24.
The show draws extensively from the 60 million items in the Animation Research Library in Glendale, Calif.
Fifteen other museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, contacted the library to see whether they could host the show after it closes in Montreal, Smith said.
In response to that enthusiasm, “there’s a good possibility that there will be another exhibit,” Smith said. At the request of LACMA, Girveau has agreed to consider assembling a second, similar Disney art show. He will travel to Los Angeles next month to discuss that possibility with LACMA and the animation library, Smith said.
“It’s a wonderful exhibit,” she said. “It’s exciting. We would love to have it here in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, where so many Disney employees live.”
Arranging for public displays of historic Disney art wasn’t encouraged when Michael Eisner led the Disney Co., so “this is very new for us,” Smith said. Chief Executive Robert Iger and Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter want to get the artwork into public view, she said.
Iger attended the opening in Paris and Richard Cook, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, went to the unveiling in Montreal, she said.
Further in the future, a separate exhibit of Disney art is possible at the New York Museum of Modern Art, Smith said. MOMA expressed interest in organizing its own Disney exhibit, but wouldn’t do so until after it completes an upcoming project with another studio, she said.
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