Authors note: So, three articles in and I feel I may need to apologize. The following article isn’t about an Asian Disney Park per say, but it is about a Disney attraction. This is mainly because I thought the attraction in question was worth talking about but also because the topic surrounding the article is interesting to me, thus I hope it is just interesting to you.
Plus, slight humble brag, whilst you are reading this, I am either in Walt Disney World in Florida or I have just recently got back from Florida. In the next couple of weeks there will be several articles concerning (and contrasting) the Florida attractions and the attractions here in the Asian Disney Parks. So, if you get through this non-Disney park article, I promise there will be a plethora, a cornucopia, a cavalcade of Disney Park related articles to come. Anyway, let’s get on with the show!
The other week, I saw that there was a ‘Pixar: 30 Years of Animation’ exhibition being held at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. I hadn’t heard much about the exhibition, so my hopes weren’t that high. I presumed that it was going to be a little basic with maybe a couple of drawings and models from the Pixar movies. Despite my trepidation, I wanted to visit the exhibit regardless. Pixar is a huge part of my Disney fandom. So in my eyes, even a mediocre Pixar exhibition, would be a good Pixar exhibition. But boy, I was surprised with what I was about to see.
The exhibition began at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum on November 18, 2017, and lasts until the March 5, 2018. Pixar: 30 Years of Animation is a touring exhibition, and variations of it have also been featured in other Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan before coming to Hong Kong. If I knew this, I probably would have had higher expectations than I did. However, my low expectations completely changed as soon as I got to the Museum.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum and Disney Pixar had gone all out with the exhibition. The celebration of all things Pixar started before you even bought your ticket. Outside in the courtyard of the Heritage Museum, were six life size (our life size, not theirs) statues of the characters of Inside Out. Now, Inside Out is one of my very favorite movies of all time, let alone Pixar movies. But bias aside, these statues were really cool and a great collective “weenie” to attract people into the exhibit.
The second big surprise regarding the exhibition was the price. During my time living in Shanghai, I visited many different art and pop culture exhibitions. All of them ranged from 10-20 USD, per person. Depending on the exhibition, this could feel a little overpriced. However, this was not the case for the Pixar exhibit. The ticket price is 20 HKD ($2.50 USD) per adult. Which even if the exhibition was minimal, I would consider a very good price. What you actually got for the price was an incredible value.
There were a few more life size statues of such Pixar hits as The Incredibles, Cars and Monsters University before entering the exhibit. If these were great to look at (and they were), they were the opening act to what was a great main event. You have probably guessed by now, but spoiler alert: Pixar: 30 Years of Animation, is one of the best art or pop culture exhibitions that I have ever seen, regardless of genre. The amount of care and detail put into the exhibit was evident from start to finish.
The start of the exhibition contained a Pixar opening statement written on the wall and a video that played featuring many different clips from the movies and clips of the artists that made them. Past that, mostly every Pixar film (sequels were bundled with their first movie) had its own gallery space.
Each gallery space contained a video about the making of the movie, art of the movie, clay models of certain characters and a quote of how or why the movie was made from the director of the movie. Regardless of the movie, all of these galleries showcased extreme beauty and just how much talent, love and care goes into each project.
The art displayed was incredibly breathtaking. There were mixtures of some of the more famous developmental artwork and some artwork that I had not seen before. It was the same with the videos, as they seemed to be a mixture of clips from Making of… documentaries and footage I had no idea existed. What really impressed me were the different models in each exhibit. Some of them were recreations of models used, others were actual models used for production. I hadn’t seen any of these models close up before and they were simply outstanding. It amazed me how ‘lifelike’ each of these inanimate objects could be.
All of the exhibitions had moments of greatness, but both the Inside Out and the Toy Story exhibits were the most awe-inspiring. The Toy Story exhibit was definitely the largest part of the whole exhibition. Despite this quantity, the quality did not waiver. You really saw the journey the artists had from the early concepts of the movie (when Buzz was tiny) to the finished product. With Toy Story being as old as it is, a lot of this stuff had been displayed and showcased before, yet it was still great to see in one place.
On the other hand, Inside Out is one of Pixar’s newest movies, which meant that I had never seen the incredible artwork and concept art from this movie. If it was possible, it made me appreciate the movie even more. That being said, I want to give a special shout out to the The Good Dinosaur section of the gallery. The Good Dinosaur is a Pixar movie that doesn’t receive the fan-fair that other movies do, but some of the artwork on display could rival anything else at the exhibition. It is clear that despite the reception of the movie, each project is loved and cared for with extreme detail.
Another cool thing about the exhibition was the fact they actually had a Coco section. I’m not sure if when the exhibition toured other countries, it had this section. If not, it was a really cool bonus for Hong Kong. Like all the other exhibitions, the art work and models on display were incredible. I was fortunate enough to have already seen the movie before going to the exhibition. However, if you hadn’t been to see Coco yet, I imagine the exhibition was a nice introduction to the movie.
A nice touch at end of the exhibition was a drawing station, where children (and adults) could draw their favorite Pixar character and display it on a corkboard for others to see. The exhibition had clearly helped influence people’s creativity as there were some excellent drawings on display for all to see.
Another interesting thing was the way this exhibition was viewed. Not viewed as in observed, but more, how it was perceived. Obviously, I haven’t visited this exhibition in any other country. But, I have seen other pop-culture exhibitions and exhibitions aimed at a younger audience. At those exhibitions, the work is appreciated, but it is probably not viewed in the same way more ‘highbrow’ exhibitions were viewed. However, this was not the case in the Pixar: 30 Years of Animation Exhibit. Yes, there were children at the exhibit, and the children I saw seemed to really enjoy it. However, there were also a lot of adults present at the exhibit, too, who were viewing the it in same way you would see people view a ‘Warhol’ or ‘Dali” display.
That got me thinking about how the people of Hong Kong view Disney/ Pixar. Disney is everywhere in Hong Kong. Merchandise exists not only in the parks, but in supermarkets and convenience stores such as 7/11. Complimenting that, there is a wide knowledge of all things Disney. Because of who I am as a person, the majority of my stationary and items are Disney themed, and I get numerous compliments from my colleagues. It’s also not only the more popular characters that get noticed and recognized, lesser known characters such as Bing Bong and Jose and Panchito are nearly as widely known as Mickey and Duffy.
This extends past a “pop culture” phenomenon. I feel like Disney/Pixar has its own part in Hong Kong culture more than being a passing trend or fad. The Disney product is revered and respected here. Maybe, more than I have seen in any other country. Yes, it is popular, but there seems to be a great appreciation for not just the product itself, but also the craft of making said product. There are definitely no jokes about something being ‘Mickey Mouse …’ meaning to have negative aspects or connotations. The Disney brand commands respect in Hong Kong and the ‘Pixar: 30 Years of Animation exhibition is a prime example of this.
It is safe to say that I really enjoyed the exhibition, and if it comes to your city, I implore you to visit it. Even if going to a museum isn’t normally your cup of tea, if you enjoy Disney/Pixar, I am almost certain that you will enjoy this.
What do you think? Have you seen this exhibition? Did you enjoy it? Are there any other touring Disney exhibitions that are worth visiting?
(All pictures are from the personal collections of Daniel Morris and Sophie Parry and are used with permission.)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for WDW Radio, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.