Major Animation Exhibit ‘Watch Me Move’ Headed to Nashville

Any exhibition that “…aims to demonstrate the centrality of animation to contemporary global culture…” is worth our attention, and the UK’s Barbican Centre-produced “Watch Me Move: The Animation Show” has been doing that at museum venues since 2011. This June, it comes to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.

“While we often think of animation as an art form for children, this exhibition acknowledges its appeal to all generations and cultures from the United States and Europe to Japan and China,” said Frist Center chief curator Mark Scala. “Most of the works comprise family entertainment, which is often hilarious and ingenious. Even films with purely aesthetic aims, or with mature and socially critical content, will change the way people appreciate many of the most creative, yet often unheralded, masters of the medium.”

The exhibition includes 85 works, from clips to complete films, arranged in six thematic sections: Apparitions, Fables and Fragments, Structures, Characters, Superhumans and Modern Visions. The obvious choices, such as Walt Disney, the Fleischers, Studio Ghibli, and Ray Harryhausen are represented, alongside lesser known figures including Wan Gu Chan and Wan Lai Ming, Jan Svankmajer, and Harry Smith, among others. “Watch Me Move” covers the earliest days of animated film to CG animation, from the abstract to the hyper-real. On June 13, Elliot Wilhelm, curator of film at the Detroit Institute of Arts (the previous venue for this show) will lecture on the films contained in the exhibition.

“Watch Me Move: The Animation Show” will be at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (919 Broadway, Nashville, TN) from June 6-September 1. The Frist Center has not yet released any video related to the show, but the Barbican produced several, including this clever one:


  • TomEaton
  • Tim Rauch

    I saw this exhibit at the DIA in Detroit. It was semi-awful, overly broad, offering little in the way of any new understanding or any real in-depth analysis or contextualization of the work being showed. Bits of Duck Amuck, episodes of Bullwinkle, the Simpsons and South Park were incoherently mashed up in one particularly jarring video display. That was essentially the “cartoons have been on TV” portion of the exhibit. The whole thing was like a list of people who have made animation with all the depth of a USA Today pie chart. The only redeeming value is seeing perhaps one or two things that might be new to you, but it ultimately fails as an exhibit. I was thoroughly disappointed.

  • DangerMaus

    Lucky people in Nashville. I would love to be able to go and see something like this without having to travel a ridiculous number of hours to get there.

  • Toonio

    Saw this many years ago and had lots of stuff and styles to feast your eyes. Guess there is a book of it on amazon to keep you inspired.

  • tom bancroft

    I live in Nashville and am currently working with the Frist to possibly do some drawing/animation demos as part of this exhibit! Come on out, anyone that is near. I will post more info on this in a few weeks, if it all works out.