By: Jared Evan
There is a can’t-miss new exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art that just opened and running until until March 6, 2022. It is called Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts and it will surely make your heart feel like it is on vacation while still in the city! Walt Disney may have modeled the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street on his hometown of Marceline, Missouri, but it was his travels in Europe that inspired some of his most iconic films.
Even the biggest Disney fan may be surprised to learn what influences Walt’s greatest hits. According to The New York Post, medieval tapestries inspired Sleeping Beauty and rococo knickknacks were the creative force behind Beauty and the Beast. The New York Post reports that “The exhibition goes back to the post-World War I era, when a 16-year-old Disney travelled to France to work for the Red Cross. He fell in love with the buildings and the art. A subsequent trip through Europe in 1935, when he was in his 30s, provided further inspiration. He filmed the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles during those travels; decades later, its design would be used as a clear reference by Disney artists for the backdrop for the famed ballroom scene in 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast.”
According to The New York Post, “Disney then employed the art director Eyvind Earle to create exactly that stage set, and it’s considered one of the most artistically sophisticated of all films.” At the new exhibit, visitors can see a vibrant gouache work of Earle’s “Sleeping Beauty” concept art, which shows a thatched cottage surrounded by trees and plants — all of which are in saturated tones and crisp focus. The idea is “stepping into a tapestry where the foreground and the background are reproduced in the same level of detail,” Burchard said. According to the exhibit’s catalogue, Earle once said, “I rearranged the bushes and trees in geometrical patterns. I made a medieval tapestry out of the surface wherever possible. All my foregrounds were tapestry designs of decorative weeds and flowers.”
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere and, for the year of 2020, the ninth most visited museum in the world. Prior to the pandemic, the most visited exhibit was the Heavenly Bodies at the Costume Institute which saw 1,659,647 visitors, according to the museum’s website. When travel overseas may not be possible, one can easily feel transported to another time and place by simply visiting the Met.