Like so many Americans, I remember creeping quietly out of bed on a Saturday morning, pouring myself a big bowl of cereal, and then sitting down in front of the television for a much anticipated morning of cartoons — Tom and Jerry, Magilla Gorilla, The Jetson’s. And as I browsed the “Hanna-Barbera: The Architects of Saturday Morning” exhibit during its opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum recently, I was transported back to my childhood, and for anyone attending the art delivered those childhood memories in spades. What a fun and inviting flashback!
The bright teal walls of the exhibition hall set the stage for a lively collection of over 250 pieces of art. From rough sketches to animated cartoons, you really see the characters come alive. Starting with pieces from as early as the 1930s, when “Tom & Jerry” first came onto the scene, through “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons” era in the 50s and 60s, and then on to “Scooby Doo” and “The Smurfs” of the 70s and 80s, viewers embark on a magical journey. Those millenial and pre-millenial visitors will also delight in these characters later counterparts, “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Dexter’s Laboratory.”
While there’s a nostalgic element to this exhibit for those of us of a certain vintage, this is certainly an exhibit worth visiting with your kids. Viewing and reading about the creative process, the evolution of a simple sketch to an actual full-length animation would hold the attention of late elementary school or older children, in my opinion. In addition to the artwork, there are delightful collections of stuffed animals, action figures, board games, and memorabilia on display!/ Checking out all of the toys was definitely my favorite part of the show, and something even my preschool and toddler might enjoy.
But easily the most popular installment for the kids of all ages was the interactive big screen, right out of a scene from “The Jetsons.” From the main screen, the viewer can choose from a plethora of original characters. You can check out their stats, their trademarks voice, sounds, and phrases, and watch clips from popular episodes. If time allowed, hours of fun could be had right there alone!
This exhibit will inspire any budding artist or cartoonist. Especially with several upcoming special events, including the museum’s school vacation camps like this December’s cartooning and animation with illustrator Scott Lincoln . I think this is a definite must-see for kids ages 5 and up, and a very special opportunity for parents to share a piece of their childhood. Enjoy!
For more about “The Architects of Saturday Morning: The Art of Hanna-Barbera” and special family events go online to nrm.org.