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AniMA: The Magic Behind Animation

Displayed at Palazzo Medici Riccardi until Oct. 17th, AniMa: The Magic of Animated Cinema from Snow White to Grendizer, exhibits over five hundred original drawings of the most celebrated animated films—and whether you’re 8 years old or 68, the magic is sure to draw you in.

After closing for a period during the COVID-19 pandemic and reopening this past June, the exhibition comes back into the public eye with newly renovated and redesigned environments. These works of art have not only made history in the world of animated cinema, but they’ve brought magic to those who watch as the pieces come together in timeless animation. From “Sleeping Beauty,” “Snow White,” and “101 Dalmatians,” to “Robin Hood” and “The Sword in the Stone,” the behind-the-scenes work of pre-production and production Disney animation is brought to the forefront. 

The exhibition isn’t strictly limited to iconic Disney masterpieces either—it extends and displays works from famous Hanna-Barbera television series along with renowned Japanese anime. These include pieces from “In Search of the Enchanted Valley,” “Anastasia,” and “Fievel Lands in America.” Since it reopened earlier this summer, it has been supported by continuous donations from international artists including Sandro Cleuzo, Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, and Yoichi Kotabe. 

If you’re interested in a visit, not only will you be able to see these behind-the-scenes works of art, there is also an educational exhibit for children and adults alike. Here, you can learn more about character studies, preparatory drawings for environments, experiments with color, and so much more. Feel free to dive even deeper into the world behind animation through a laboratory activity focused on the technique behind animation in which visitors can learn firsthand about the artistry behind creating an animated flip-book. 

We’ve all seen the films in action, with Snow White and her seven dwarves or the 101 dalmations escaping Cruella de Vil—but what about how they came to life? The creative originality of the exhibition emphasizes this part of the process from sketch to animation by displaying drawings created for two unpublished short films by the talented students of the NEMO Academy. 

Promoted by the Metropolitan City of Florence and MUS.E alongside the NEMO Academy of Florence, the exhibition is curated by Federica Fabbri, animator and head of the animation cinema course at NEMO, Sandro Cleuzo, animator Disney, Dreamworks and Warner Bros, Luca Chiarotti and Francesco Mariotti, art directors and teachers of the Academy, and Francesco Chiatante, Japanese animation historian and director. The illustrations come from the collection of AniMA Firenze of about eight thousand housed at the NEMO Academy—from the first modern animation frame of “Gertie the Dinosaur” dated back to 1914, to the historical Mickey Mouse of the 1930s. 

“Gertie the Dinosaur” is the earliest animated film to feature a dinosaur created in such a naturalistic style, it was unprecedented for the time. She was created to breathe rhythmically, shifting her weight as she moved, and with a quirky personality that creator Winsor McCay had to share with the world. Having this first modern animation frame of Gertie on display allows viewers to not only see the origins of animation, but also to understand how we went from black and white sketches, to modern colorful works of seamless action. 

We all still have a bit of the child we once were—or still are—inside us, so let the magic of AniMA bring them back out with the timeless art of original animation behind our favorite cartoon characters. Reservations are required, so contact [email protected] to make yours today. Pricing includes 2 euros for residents of the Metropolitan City of Florence and 4 euros for non-residents—in addition to the entrance ticket to the exhibition. Exhibit times include every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 4:30 p.m., and every Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.