New Disney Exhibit In NYC Celebrates Mickey Mouse’s 90th Birthday

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Exhibit-goers are immediately greeted by neon signs of Mickey Mouse that was done by longtime Disney sketch artist Jeff Shelley. (Photos by Anthony Murray)

Oh boy! Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is celebrating 90 years of Mickey Mouse’s influence on art and pop culture this year. The 16,000-square foot exhibit that features both historic and contemporary work from renowned artists from around the world opened this month in Chelsea in New York City—allowing visitors to travel through an immersive experience that is inspired by the famous mouse’s consistent impact on the arts.

“You’re going to walk into a super special experience,” said Los Angeles-based artist and designer Darren Romanelli, who is also the curator of the exhibit. “It’s the first time that Disney has done something on this scale since Walt Disney premiered Steamboat Willie here in 1928 at the Colony Theater.”

The exhibit has a mix of archival and contemporary art moments where artists have created a language between archives and specific works.

When first entering the exhibit, visitors are greeted with neon signs of Mickey, which was done by longtime Disney sketch artist Jeff Shelley.

Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami’s pop art piece “Mickey’s Japan Tour” can also be seen at the exhibit. (Photo by Christina Claus)

“When [Disney] asked me to do this, I said we need a big neon wall, so I designed this with Mickey in the 1930s and into the ’40s where he was the button eye,” said Shelley. “I like this time period because a lot of stuff happened in the ’30s.”

In another room around the corner of the exhibit’s entrance is the piece (L)imitation of Sound—a wall chock full of comic strips of Mickey Mouse, which was created by Los Angeles-based artist and Grammy-nominated graphic designer Brian Roettinger.

Roettinger deconstructed original comic strips by Walt Disney Productions’ cartoonist Floyd Gottfredson and was inspired by their use of language and onomatopoeia.

Beyond a techno-colored hallway is artist London Kaye’s crotchet interpretation of Disney’s 1935 groundbreaking animated short The Band Concert, which is considered one of the most acclaimed moments in animation history.

“It was nice to bring a chain link fence inside and crochet Mickey and be a part of all this,” said Kaye. “It’s all based off the animation in the room, incorporating the music and the colors and the style of Mickey.”

Working on and off for three months, Kaye said she crocheted the backdrop while blindfolded.

Paying tribute to the 1940 Disney animated film Fantasia, the exhibit has a room called Sorcerer’s Way where visitors can transport themselves into the immersive and magical world of Fantasia. Visitors can become their own sorcerer by standing under the giant and illuminated sorcerer’s hat that Mickey famously wore in the film.

The exhibit also transports visitors back in time to a realistic 1950s diner in honor of the first Mickey Mouse Club variety show that premiered on television in 1955. In honor of Mickey’s birthday, the diner is also serving up some sweet treats such as confetti celebration and triple chocolate surprise ice cream from Ample Hills Creamery.

At the end of the exhibit inside the exhibit’s retail store, is the psychedelic Mickey Mouse Cosmic Cavern, which was created by artist Kenny Scharf.

Located at 60 10th Ave., in New York City, Mickey: The True Original Exhibition is open now through Feb. 10, 2019. The exhibition is closed on Mondays. To purchase tickets, visit www.partners.disney.com/mickey-the-true-original-exhibition.

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