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Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts

10 de dezembro de 2021–6 de março de 2022
Previously on view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 199
Free with Museum admission

Pink castles, talking sofas, and objects coming to life: what sounds like fantasies from the pioneering animation of Walt Disney Animation Studios were in fact the figments of the colorful salons of Rococo Paris. The Met’s first-ever exhibition exploring the work of Walt Disney and the hand-drawn animation of Walt Disney Animation Studios will examine Disney’s personal fascination with European art and the use of French motifs in his films and theme parks, drawing new parallels between the studios’ magical creations and their artistic models.

Sixty works of 18th-century European decorative arts and design—from tapestries and furniture to Boulle clocks and Sèvres porcelain—will be featured alongside 150 production artworks and works on paper from the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, Walt Disney Archives, Walt Disney Imagineering Collection, and The Walt Disney Family Museum. Selected film footage illustrating the extraordinary technological and artistic developments of the studio during Disney’s lifetime and beyond will also be shown.

The exhibition will highlight references to European visual culture in Disney animated films, including nods to Gothic Revival architecture in Cinderella (1950), medieval influences on Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Rococo-inspired objects brought to life in Beauty and the Beast (1991). The exhibition also marks the 30th anniversary of the animated theatrical release of Beauty and the Beast.

To access the booklet of all in-gallery labels, click here.

Exhibition Preview

Lead corporate sponsorship is provided by

Additional support is provided by The Florence Gould Foundation, The Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation/French Heritage Society, and Beatrice Stern.

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Wallace Collection.

The catalogue is made possible the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund.

Additional support is provided by Irene Roosevelt Aitken and Marilyn and Lawrence Friedland.

How did European decorative arts inspire Walt Disney and his production teams? Hear an insider’s perspective from Angela Lansbury and others who made the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast.

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One of a pair of lidded vases with cover (Vase en tour), Sèvres Manufactory  French, Soft-paste porcelain, French
Sèvres Manufactory
ca. 1762
Concept Art for Cinderella (1950): Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters rehearsing
, Mary Blair  American, Gouache and graphite on board, American
Mary Blair
late 1940s
The Magic Lantern, Sèvres Manufactory  French, Soft-paste biscuit porcelain, French, Sèvres
Multiple artists/makers
ca. 1760
Lion (one of a pair), Meissen Manufactory  German, Hard-paste porcelain, German, Meissen
Meissen Manufactory
Johann Gottlieb Kirchner
ca. 1732
Pair of candlesticks (flambeaux or chandeliers), Juste Aurèle Meissonnier  French, Gilt bronze, French, Paris
Juste Aurèle Meissonnier
The Vultures, Walt Disney Studios  American, Gouache on two layers of celluloid over watercolor and gouache background
Walt Disney Studios
ca. 1937

Latest reviews

Through the lens of Disney, The Met tells the tale of a small but mighty facet of its collection in a way that is fascinating and accessible….

Crafts Magazine

‘It’s Disney, but is it art?’ This exhibit clearly, educationally and entertainingly shows that it is.

Orlando Sentinel

The perfect balance of pixie dust and panache.

Architectural Digest

Sure to capture the imagination of Disney fans young and old.

Time Out New York

Replete with demonstrations of wizardly animation techniques

The New Yorker

Should Disney movies be considered works of art? … in the spirit of the tradition of the French decorative arts, the point is not to overanalyze -- and enjoy the show.


Effervescent and slyly profound

The Financial Times

Can’t-miss exhibit

The Jewish Voice

Mightily clever, spinning lots of conjectures into a persuasive whole.

The National Review


The Magazine Antiques
Marquee: Sèvres Manufactory. Covered vase in the form of a tower (vase en tour; detail), ca. 1762. Soft-paste porcelain. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, The Arabella D. Huntington Memorial Art Collection. Image courtesy of the Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California