‘A Journey into Imagimation’ Brings 100+ Years of Animation History to Art Museum of South Texas

By Richard Guerrero, Joshua Esparza | Published: October 18, 2019

‘A Journey into Imagimation’ Brings 100+ Years of Animation History to Art Museum of South Texas
Hal Miles, co-founder of the Animation Hall of Fame

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Animation has evolved through many forms during its over century long existence. Accordingly, the Animation Hall of Fame aims to document this history with “A Journey into Imagimation: Over a Hundred Years of Animation Art from Around the World,” a retrospective look at the global evolution of animation from 1915 to today.

This nationally featured exhibition – approximately 140 pieces of a much larger private collection – can currently be viewed at the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST) through Jan. 5, 2020. AMST is affiliated with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and admission to the museum is free for Islander students with a valid SandDollar$ ID.

“I feel closer to my favorite animations after seeing the hard work that goes into them behind-the-scenes,” said Bailee Hazelwood, a freshman Islander art student who also serves as a museum docent. “This exhibition is nothing short of amazing. Everyone will enjoy it.”

Hal and Nancy Miles are the animation power couple who founded the Animation Hall of Fame. A visual effects veteran, Hal has worked on films like “Terminator 2” and has worked with esteemed creators such as Director James Cameron of “Avatar” fame, and animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who provided effects for the 1981 film “Clash of the Titans.” Nancy, a lifelong lover of animation, has worked with professionals in the field and co-founded various animation clubs and foundations.

Through their various contacts, and their love for cinema, the Miles have amassed a private collection of thousands of collectables from all kinds of animations, shows, and films.

The exhibition is organized by era and animation type. Cels from the earliest hand-drawn traditional animation can be seen at the beginning of the display. Examples include Gertie the Dinosaur, the first anthropomorphized creature to be animated, and Steamboat Willy, a revolutionary animation that featured the debut of Mickey Mouse.

Items from stop motion features can also be found in the gallery. Stop motion artists painstakingly build and move models frame by frame to create movement. From Gumby and the original “King Kong” armature to contemporary works like “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” all eras of stop motion are accounted for in this gallery.

“The history presented to viewers is so important and visually easy to digest that viewers of all ages will walk away with smiles on their faces,” said Emmanuel Sanchez, an Islander graduate sculpture student who also serves as an AMST docent.

Although many of these pieces originate from Hollywood, the exhibition features items from all over the world. For example, the gallery houses a frame from “The Adventure of Prince Achmed,” a 1926 German film that is often considered the first fully animated feature. Japanese anime features, such as “Akira” and “Princess Mononoke,” are on display as well. Other countries, such as Mexico and Italy, are also represented in the gallery.

Other pieces on display include early silhouette experimental animation, physical models, and hand-crafted backgrounds. Visitors can also enjoy viewing iconic and must-see items from “Snow White,” “The Simpsons,” and “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” to name a few.

“This is the best the exhibit has ever been displayed,” said Hal Miles. “It’s been an absolute joy to bring ‘A Journey into Imagimation’ to the Art Museum of South Texas.”