Animation Gallery

Level 5

The Animation Gallery explores the history of animation and animated images, with an emphasis on animation produced in Britain. See some of your favourite characters, look back at animation through the ages, and discover how animators bring drawings and objects to life.

Animation on the Small Screen

The first objects you encounter as you enter the Animation Gallery are the Smash Martian puppets, illustrating the importance of commercials to the survival of animation studios. Continue to the realm of children's animation to see a set from The Wombles, and artwork and storyboards from Bob the Builder. A key object is the museum set from The Wrong Trousers, complete with Wallace and the notorious 'Feathers' McGraw. This section also showcases the development of an adult audience for animation by Channel 4 and the BBC.

Moving Pictures

This area explores the basic principles of perceiving movement and how animated drawings pre-date the development of moving pictures. Try your hand at optical toys such as the zoetrope, praxinoscope and the wheel of life. On display are major objects from the National Cinematography Collection such as Louis Le Prince's single lens and 16 lens cameras, an Edison Kinetoscope and a Lumière Cinématographe, together with an interactive display showing how these devices work.

One Hundred Years of Animation

Take a seat in our viewing booth to watch clips from animated films from 1897 onwards, then learn about range of animation techniques from cut-outs to computer animation, and the ever-popular stop-motion method. Learn about the work of Winsor McCay, Walt Disney, Lotte Reiniger, Norman McLaren, John Whitney, John Lasseter, and many other famous animators.

Animation in Britain

After you've learned about animation techniques, step into the area that focuses on animators and studios based in the UK, including Halas & Batchelor, Barry Purves, Aardman, Joanna Quinn and Ray Harryhausen. Watch clips and see original artwork, puppet models and sets from titles such as Animal Farm, Dangermouse, Morph, Andy Pandy, Jason and the Argonauts, and Girls Night Out.

Now You Try!

In the final section, we outline the animation process from original idea to the final film, through script, storyboards, style sheets and bar breakdowns, and show you how animators create moving images using cel, model and computer animation. Before you leave, try animating a simple walk cycle against a moving background – not as simple as it seems.