Poor Tex Avery just can’t seem to win. He’s getting his own day in Texas next month, while his protégé at Warner Bros., Chuck Jones, will be the subject of a six-year nationwide museum exhibit that launches this summer.
“What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” will open in July at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City. The museum has put together the exhibit in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.
The exhibit includes what you would expect: sketches, storyboards, cels, model sheets, photographs backgrounds, and 22 animated shorts, including classics such as One Froggy Evening, What’s Opera, Doc?, and The Dot and the Line. In all, ten Oscar-nominated shorts are included. Also promised are wall-projected animated films to provide “the visual and contextual centerpiece of the exhibition,” and unspecified interactive experiences: Can you catch your own roadrunner? Kill da wabbit? Probably not; museums dislike messes.
The current tour itinerary lists four venues out of 14 possible slots through 2019. For anyone in the traditional fine art world, this is unimaginable, as shipping costs and conservation issues with multi-million dollar artworks limit most tours to two or three venues. Animation-related artwork travels more easily, and for now, the show is booked at the Museum of the Moving Image (July 2014-Jan 2015), the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (Feb—May 2015), the EMP Museum in Seattle (June 2015—Jan 2016), and LA’s yet-to-be-opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (June-Sept 2018). The exhibit can be rented by any institution for a $64,000 ‘participation fee’ which means you can pressure your local museum to bring it closer to you.
The exhibit is said to “…offer insight into how Jones and his collaborators worked together to create cinematic magic….” Though it might not break new ground in scholarship (there is no catalog), plenty of books already exist to shed light on Jones and his crew. At the very least, it might be entertaining to see these familiar films in a museum setting.