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Animation At The Museum Of The Moving Image

Yvette Burrows describes the Museum's collection and many of the intriguing animation events and training courses being held at London's world-famous MOMI.

Since opening in 1988, the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) has aimed to be a 'living' museum. One of the first museums in the United Kingdom to employ a full company of actors to entertain and inform guests, MOMI has, through many interactive exhibits, allowed visitors to delve behind the scenes of the magical world of the moving image.

The animation exhibit in the Museum of the Moving Image, London. © MOMI.

The Animation Exhibit

The animation exhibit, located in the heart of the museum, is central to the museum's ethos. A changing exhibition of animation cels leads the way to the main exhibit area. Currently, work from the internationally famous Hanna-Barbera series Scooby Doo by Iwao Takamoto is on display. We are delighted that Iwao himself visited the Museum on September 21 to give a talk to museum visitors.

The main animation exhibit area is designed in the shape of Reynaud's praxinoscope, which, like many of the Victorian toys featured at the Museum, used animation techniques before cinema was invented. With professional animators on hand, visitors are encouraged to try out their own animation skills using an early toy in visual illusion, the zoetrope.

A whole menagerie of cartoon animals, including Tom & Jerry, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Henry's Cat, rampage around the walls. These characters are all from cel animations - drawn or painted on celluloid then filmed in sequence. However, other techniques are also explored: the cut-outs of Terry Gilliam; and the silhouettes of Lotte Reiniger; Caroline Leaf's sand animation; the puppets of Eastern Europeans like Jan Svankmajer; the line drawings of Winsor McCay and the stop motion models recently made so popular in Britain by Aardman Animations and the Brothers Quay.

In addition to animation artwork, the MOMI animation exhibit features a glass-fronted animation booth. Here, animator-in-residence Brian Wood works on his film School Disco. © MOMI.

Artists in Residence

The animation area also houses a unique, glass-fronted animation booth where visitors can actually observe an animator at work. Four animators are chosen every year to take part in the Animator in Residence Scheme, sponsored by Channel 4 Television. Each animator spends three months in the Museum's animation booth, animating 1-2 minutes from the storyboard of their own animated film. This work is then submitted to the animation department at Channel 4 Television where the commissioning editor for animation, Clare Kitson, will decide whether or not to give the go ahead for a final complete production. So far all those who have completed a residency (24 in all), have gone on to be commissioned. Nineteen of the animators have completed their films and five are currently in production. Once finished, these films are broadcast on Channel 4 Television. Several have gone on to win prestigious prizes at international film festivals. Most recently Ruth Lingford's film Death and the Mother earned a Special Mention for Graphic Style at the 1997 Annecy International Festival of Animation.

Other Programs

The Museum continues to support the animation industryby acting as a base to the British Animation Training Scheme (BATS). BATS, an industry-led initiative, offers a vocational training scheme, "Assisting in Animation." Trainees attend the course one day per week for 30 weeks. For the rest of the week, the trainees are employed as juniors in the animation industry. BATS aims to extend the range of available vocational animation training. With this in mind, the first one-week BATS Summer School, "An Introduction to the Animation Industry," was offered last year to young people considering a career in traditional 2D animation. This year, two such courses were offered and we hope to continue the program next year.

In addition, the Museum's Education Department regularly runs animation events for all age ranges and for those with special needs. These half-day workshops offer students an introduction to the processes involved in devising their own animated film.

Anthony Hodgson, creator of the acclaimed student film Hilary, worked on the puppet animation film Combination Skin during his 1995 residency at MOMI. © MOMI.

Evening events in the Museum Cinema also regularly focus on animation. For example, in August we featured The Len Lye Story which looks at the life and work of the maverick animator and artist. Our current Special Exhibition runs until late November and features original art work by Gerald Scarfe from the latest Disney feature Hercules.

Animation is a varied and wonderful art form which continues to enjoy huge public interest, in part because of the accessibility of the medium to the amateur film maker. The Museum of the Moving Image will continue to promote and display the work of animators past and present and is committed to supporting vocational training and new animation through BATS and the Channel 4/Museum of the Moving Image Animator in Residence Scheme. MOMI has something to offer everyone. From a pleasant day out with the children to teach them the basic principles of animation, to jump starting an independent animation career, there is a MOMI program for you.

Sam Moore using a multi-plane for her oil-on-glass film Glasgow Kiss, during her residency July-September 1995. © MOMI.

Contacts

If you would like to know more about the animation schemes at the Museum, please contact Yvette Burrows on 0171-815-1376.

For information about events and screenings please call the box office on 0171-928-3232.

For Museum information please call 0171-401-2636 (24 hr recorded information).

The Education Department can be contacted on 0171-815-1339/8 and preferential rates are offered to groups through the Group Bookings Office on 0171-815-1350.

The BFI web site can be found at www.bfi.org.uk

Yvette Burrows is Animation Coordinator at the Museum of the Moving Image and as such is responsible for the Animator-in-Residence Scheme and the British Animation Training Scheme.

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