Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki have enchanted viewers for decades and have been giants in the impossibly imaginative world of animation. Miyazaki brings incredible storytelling, compelling and complex characters (that are much loved by audiences everywhere), and sumptuous animated art to life. I believe like many others, Miyazaki’s work at Studio Ghibli brings a feeling of warmth and joy that inspire us to enjoy and take from life with childlike hopefulness. And for the first time ever, Miyazaki’s work is being exhibited outside Japan, finding home at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, California.
According to NPR, the Academy Museum, the same organization that hosts the famous annual Academy Awards, has dedicated an 11,000-square-foot exhibition to Miyazaki’s ingenious work at Studio Ghibli. With a career spanning decades, Miyazaki’s work, from original storyboards to a wooden work desk from his studio, will be on display.
“He’s a cinematic master . . . Miyazaki is an international filmmaker. We wanted to highlight somebody who really had global appeal and global impact. And one of the things that’s really unique about his work, too, is that it actually does appeal to young people and older generations with equal passion and vision”Jacqueline Stewart, Chief Artistic and Programming officer at the Academy Museum
The Hayao Miyazaki Exhibition
The exhibition will not only feature content from Miyazaki’s 11 films, but the space itself will also incorporate key, symbolic elements from his films. Jessica Niebel, the curator for the Miyazaki exhibition, worked closely with Studio Ghibli and the Studio Ghibli Museum in Japan to fully ensure the space will not only hold but embody the essence of Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli films. For instance, the very entrance into the Miyazaki exhibition is enveloped in green fabric, set to evoke the habitat of the wood spirits from the famous scene in My Neighbor Totoro (1988) where Mei follows two small spirits and encounter Totoro and her journey begins.
The Hayao Miyazaki exhibition at the Academy Museum also highlights other iconic imagery in the space like the Mother Tree, which plays a powerful role in Miyazaki’s films like Princess Mononoke. Featuring over 400 objects from Miyazaki’s films, the curators designed the space to integrate and embody the spirit of Miyazaki’s films at Studio Ghibli. While also displaying the objects, the space is designed around them to communicate the message of his films and evoke our own emotions and memories around Studio Ghibli.
As the exhibit ends, visitors leave again through a “spirit tunnel,” which leads to the rest of the Academy Museum. Evocative of the magical forest from Miyazaki’s iconic film, Spirited Away (2001) and Chihiro’s ending journey, visitors leave the Miyazaki exhibit and encounter a small, smiling boulder (the two-faced Stone Spirit), a symbol of luck, which reminds us the journey never ends.