Ray Harryhausen Collection
In November 2010, on Ray Harryhausen's 90th birthday, The Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation pledged Ray's complete personal collection, including original models and artwork, to the Museum.
Ray Harryhausen animating Medusa from Clash of the Titans (1981) © Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
What's in the Collection?
The Collection comprehensively documents Harryhausen's working methods and inspirations over a 40-year career. There are an estimated 15-20,000 objects in the core collection, along with additional material such as magazines and cuttings.
The Collection includes drawings, paintings and storyboards for Harryhausen's films, along with iconic models such as the skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Pegasus from Clash of the Titans (1981), and even a mini Raquel Welch from One Million Years BC (1966).
The Collection also includes work by Willis O'Brien (1886 - 1962), the creator of King Kong; books, scripts and printed material, including folios of engravings by Gustav Doré (1832 - 1883) and John Martin (1789 - 1854); animation models and original moulds created for the films; fine bronzes derived from the models; awards; photographs and documentation; along with furniture from Ray Harryhausen's study, and his tools and machinery used to make the models.
Why are we acquiring it?
Open any book on the history of cinema special effects and two names are always mentioned: Georges Méliès, the great French pioneer, and Ray Harryhausen, although Ray always preferred to be recognised for his contribution to visual effects. Whenever people talk about Ray's work, they inevitably mention Dynamation, which broke new ground in animation.
Ray Harryhausen was world-renowned as key figure in the field of visual effects animation and a huge influence on the work of many of the most prominent film directors and animators working today. He was unique in that, for most of his career, he worked single-handedly on the conception and realisation of many of his films.
The Collection comprehensively documents and evidences Harryhausen's life and career, his working methods and inspirations. It will be of interest to film historians, practitioners and enthusiasts world-wide. The presence of the Ray Harryhausen Collection will generate increased interest, and strengthen the reputation of the Museum and our collections.
What will we do with the Collection
The acquisition of the Ray Harryhausen Collection offers varied opportunities for access to and exploitation of Ray's archive, including:
- Exhibitions and displays within the Museum, and loans to external national and international venues for projects which will celebrate Ray's legacy.
- Partnerships with academic and cultural partners.
- Working with organisations such as the Visual Effects Society, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and BAFTA, to gain support from film industry professionals to preserve and sustain the Collection.
- The challenges associated with preserving and caring for the Collection will result in the development of new, specialised conservation techniques, opening up avenues for research into, for example, latex preservation.
When will the collection be available to the public?
To date, we have catalogued around 10,000 items, a significant part of the core Ray Harryhausen Collection. This task is ongoing. A Collections Manager has been appointed for the next two years, working under the guidance of the Foundation's own Curator and Archivist to complete this cataloguing, and work with specialist Museum staff to develop plans for its future availability, conservation and care.
About Ray Harryhausen
When film enthusiasts think of stop motion animation, Ray Harryhausen will always be one of the names at the top of the list. More casual film-goers – perhaps of a certain age – may not immediately recollect the Harryhausen name, but will often recall images of fighting skeletons, a writhing Medusa or a host of fearsome prehistoric creatures.
Ray Harryhausen is one of the key figures in the development of cinema animation. He blended a strong artistic vision with impressive technical abilities to produce some of the most memorable characters in stop motion history.
For many years, film makers and special effects artists have publicly acknowledged their debt to Ray Harryhausen. Peter Jackson, George Lucas, John Landis, Nick Park, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and Denis Muren (the effects wizard for Star Wars (1977), Terminator 2 (1991), War of the Worlds (2005) have all expressed their admiration.
"I always considered Ray Harryhausen's work so fine that it was out of my league: in terms of realism and naturalism, in terms of animal movement". Nick Park, April 2010.
Ray Harryhausen, a giant of animation
Ray Harryhausen (1920 - 2013) was a true animation and visual effects pioneer. His creativity, innovation and vision influenced many of the leading lights in film.
Read our tribute to Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen Collection on display
While we work on cataloguing the Collection and bringing it to Bradford, you can take a look at some of the hightlights on display outside our research centre.
Find out more about the Ray Harryhausen display
Ray Harryhausen on the blog
Follow the story of the Ray Harryhausen Collection acquisition, and our relationship with the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation on our blog.
Read our posts about Ray Harryhausen
The official Ray Harryhausen website
Explore Ray's life and work online. The website is run by the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation, a charitable trust whose primary aim is to protect Ray's name and body of work.
Visit the Ray Harryhausen website