“What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image

Celebrating the Incredible and Inimitable Genius of Chuck Jones at NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image…

Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit”… Yes I still have that song in my head! Really! As a matter of fact, I sang the song all weekend long to anyone who would listen as I told them about my delightful visit to the Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Movie Image. Did I say ‘delightful visit?’ Well, that would be an understatement…

Whats Up Doc, The Animation of Chuck Jones Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image

So, what is it that made the Chuck Jones Exhibit so over-the-top delightful for me? Well, having grown up watching Looney Tunes cartoons every Saturday morning, I certainly expected to revel in fond memories and fabulous silliness, courtesy of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the iconic cast of ‘looney’ characters from my childhood. Mission accomplished. I certainly expected to laugh-out-loud watching these wonderful cartoons from the guise of adulthood, being able to fully appreciate their sophisticated wittiness, zany antics and off-the-wall humor. Again, mission accomplished. I certainly expected to see lots of original sketches and drawings, storyboards, production backgrounds, animation cells, style sheets, photographs and production notes. Yes, again, mission accomplished…

But what I certainly didn’t expect was to feel such a profound and awe-inspired respect for the genius and artistry of Chuck Jones and his collaborators.  What I certainly didn’t expect was to feel like a fly-on-the-wall as I learned about the incredible hard work involved in making inanimate drawings magically transform into living, breathing ‘friends’ that would travel with me throughout my entire life. What I certainly didn’t expect was to realize that I took Chuck Jones, his team, and his creations for granted all of these years… Wow. I am still overwhelmed by these thoughts, even days after my visit.  So I’ll say it again — absolutely over-the-top delightful…

chuck jones exhibit overview

That said, as you may suspect from my above musings, this Exhibit is just so wonderfully special that I am going to find it difficult to convey its scope here in this very limited space… So, the best I can do right now is provide a sampling of its many treasures  — and urge you to visit the Chuck Jones Exhibit either at The Museum of the Moving Image in NYC (through January 19, 2015) — or when the Exhibit travels through a city near you next year…

So, here goes… a whirlwind online ‘tour’ via a smattering of photos taken at the Exhibit…

All photos taken by me, courtesy of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, the Museum of the Moving Image and/or Warner Bros.™ Looney Tunes Characters (© & TM Warner Bros.)

Bugs Bunny Model Sheet, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageBugs Bunny Model Sheet


Degas and the line, guide for Bugs Bunny, Chuck Jones Exhibit

A thorough knowledge of anatomy is crucial in animation because even an imaginary character has to move in a consistent manner and display a real sense of weight and physical presence. To quote Chuck Jones: each character “has an individual style of movement and of thinking, all subject to the restrictions of their own skeletal structures.”


Van Gogh as inspiration for One Froggy Evening cartoon, Chuck Jones

In “One Froggy Evening” (1956), Chuck Jones created the construction worker’s bedroom to evoke Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, The Bedroom (1888). Jones often integrated fine art references into his cartoons. “One Froggy Evening” was inducted into The National Film Registry in 2003.


Michigan J Frog, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageCharacter sketch of Chuck Jones creation, Michigan J. Frog, star of “One Froggy Evening” and WB Television Network mascot from 1995 to 2005.


Listen: Chuck Jones and the Art of Directing Audio Clips, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageA wonderful array of audio clips from voice over sessions featuring Mel Blanc as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and Arthur Q. Bryan as Elmer Fudd — complete with music and sound effects — plus marvelous interview clips with Chuck Jones.


Short Film, From Pencil to Paint, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image

Short film, from pencil to paint, chuck jones exhibit, museum of the moving imageScreen grabs from “From Pencil to Paint,” a short film that explores Chuck Jones’ animation process


Background, Rabbit Seasoning, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageBackground from “Rabbit Seasoning” (1952)


Character Layout Drawings, The Road Runner and Wiley E. Coyote, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageCharacter Layout Drawings of Chuck Jones creations, The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote 🙂


Nine Rules for The Road Runner, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image

Chuck Jones worked within a clearly defined set of rules for each of his cartoons (as seen above for The Road Runner) to ensure that each of his characters had distinct personalities and behavioral traits.


Whats Opera Doc Color Guide, Chuck Jones Exhibit

Color Guide for “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957)


Elmer Fudd sings I'm going to kill the wabbit, Chuck Jones Exhibit Museum of Movie Image

(couldn’t resist) Elmer Fudd singing “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!” (from “What’s Opera, Doc?”)


Model Sheet for Cindy Lou Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image

Model Sheet of Cindy Lou Who from the television special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”


Matinee Program, Chuck Jones Exhibit, Museum of the Moving ImageAn hour’s worth of ‘Big Screen’ Merriment during the Saturday/Sunday Cartoon Matinees 🙂 (see schedule here)


As mentioned above, these photos represent just a small sampling of what you can see and learn at the Chuck Jones Exhibit. The collection also covers other iconic characters including Porky Pig, Pepe le Pew and Marvin Martian, as well as The Grinch and Horton (Hears a Who). There are music scores, production notes and looped cartoons, plus information on Chuck Jones’ artistry, inspirations and influences. And if that’s not enough, you can learn lots of fun facts as you progress through the Exhibit, such as the perfect number of frames to ensure a laugh when Wile E. Coyote falls off a cliff, and how the cartoon “Feed the Kitty” (1952, starring Kitty and Marc Antony) inspired a scene in Disney’s Monsters Inc (2001). 

All told, the Chuck Jones Exhibit is well worth the time (understatement). And, it’s only part of what The Museum of the Moving Image has to offer — there’s also a marvelous “Behind the Screen” Exhibit that features historic movie/TV cameras and equipment, classic movie/TV costumes and collectables, classic serial screenings, computer-based interactive experiences and more — but more about that another time…


–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

More Info:
“What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” is a traveling exhibition that reveals the creative genius behind some of the most enduringly popular cartoons and animated films of all time. The exhibition is a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, and the Museum of the Moving Image.
“What’s Up, Doc: The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” at Museum of the Moving Image is the first stop in a national tour organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.


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3 Responses to “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” Exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image

  1. Aurora says:

    Wonderful post and wonderful day!! 🙂 Aurora

    • Annmarie Gatti says:

      Yes, such a wonderful day! So glad we were able to go together! Made it even more fun! Really looking forward to visiting the Museum again 🙂

  2. Dorothy Winnett says:

    Absolutely wonderful, brings such wonderful memories, and I still love watching Classic Cartoons, thanks for sharing ♥

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