DreamWorks exhibition draws on great storytelling

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School children from St Joseph’s Primary School in Wee Waa mob Po the Panda

THE National Museum of Australia’s summer blockbuster “DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition” got off to a fine start this morning (September 11) when children from St Joseph’s Primary School in Wee Waa mobbed “Po” the Kung Fu Panda and their classmates called out “How’s Fiona?” to Shrek. 

It’s at the opposite of the spectrum from last year’s blockbuster “Rome: City and Empire” and the museum has gone a bit silly, with pelicans, dragons and other creatures popping up around the institution’s public spaces.

This is an exhibition designed to pack the crowds in over summer and museum director Mathew Trinca could hardly hide his pleasure when the Wee Waa kids told him the show was “really cool”.

DreamWorks wall at the NMA

Trinca invited those present to enjoy great storytelling, saying the imagery from the famous film and animation studio was “emblematic of the age we live in”. The show, he said, was one that highlighted the way DreamWorks used “great art and great animators to show something special that reaches into our lives”.

Created by ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image in Melbourne) in partnership with DreamWorks Animation, the exhibition unfolds over four main sections “Character”, “Story”, “World” and “Drawing Room” tracing DreamWorks Animation’s history from its first feature film “Antz” in 1998 through to “Captain Underpants” in 2017.

Animators’ sketches on display

Featuring more than 400 items, the exhibition includes concept drawings, storyboards, models, masks, maps, photographs, posters, paintings and other original artworks.

ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay was on hand to tell those present of the days he had spent with his own family watching DreamWorks shows, “a new way of being together,” he said. And from his expert viewing, he’d come to the conclusion that “pandas really can do kung fu”.

Popup giraffe in National Museum foyer

Trinca said the important part of the exhibition, which was originally staged and curated by ACMI in Melbourne in 2014 and has since been to Singapore, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada and Brazil, was the way it revealed the making of the animation through all the steps that end in digital animated features.

The show is being billed as an Australian-American collaboration, and celebrated Aussie animator for DreamWorks Marek Kochout was on hand to tell the crowd how his “amazing journey” had begun during his studies in Brisbane, which saw him then move to Sydney, get recruited by Walt Disney, get a job at Fox Animations in Phoenix Arizona and then at DreamWorks.

New works here for the Canberra show only include an scale model of the “Far Far Away” castle from “Shrek 2”, development sketches of characters from “Trolls” and material from the production and creation of iconic movies including “Kung Fu Panda 3”, “ Prince of Egypt” and “Bee Movie”.

Highlights will include an immersive Dragon Flight theatre experience and an interactive Animation Desk digital kiosk in which participants have the opportunity to create their own short animations.

 “DreamWorks Animation: The Exhibition”, National Museum of Australia, September 12 to February 2. Bookings to bookings@nma.gov.au




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