Mickey Mouse art exhibition arrives in Beijing

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Mickey Mouse art exhibition arrives in Beijing
A poster for the “Mickey: The True Original & Ever Curious” exhibition. [Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company]

Editor’s Note:

“Mickey: The True Original & Ever Curious” opened at the 798 Art Center in Beijing on July 23 and will last until Nov. 6. 

Ever since “Steamboat Willie,” the first animated short with synchronized sound, hit the silver screen in 1928 in New York, the little dancing mouse, Mickey Mouse, has captured the hearts and minds of fans across generations around the world.

“Over the past century, Mickey Mouse has grown from animated short films to a global pop culture icon. He has transcended cultural and regional differences and been a positive force across animation, art, and beyond,” the exhibition’s co-curator, You Yang, said at the opening ceremony. You is also the deputy director of the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art and director of the UCCA Lab.

The “Mickey: The True Original Exhibition” opened in New York City in November 2018 and then toured Tokyo, Japan, in 2020. To celebrate Mickey’s 90th anniversary, Disney invited artists from diverse cultural backgrounds to reimagine the world’s most famous animated character, sparking a fantastic exploration of the possibilities of what Mickey means to our times.

The Beijing stop of the “Mickey: The True Original & Ever Curious” exhibition tour is the biggest ever. It presents 61 Mickey Mouse-inspired works that 60 renowned local and global artists created through various mediums, including paintings, sculptures, calligraphy, installations, sound, performances, and new media. The exhibition also features rare archival materials.

The exhibition space in Beijing is designed around the central theme of “Ever Curious,” arranged into a garden-like space that stimulates the audience’s desire to wander and explore. The exhibition design combines elements from modern urban life and traditional Chinese design, creating an immersive experience for visitors and guiding them to discover hidden spaces and surprises. The exhibition is divided into four main sections: “Hello, Mickey,” “The Icon,” “Mickey’s Adventure,” and “Once A Child.” Each section offers different perspectives from which the participating artists have imagined new ways of artistically interacting with Mickey’s legacy. 

In 2021, Disney, in partnership with UCCA Lab, a subsidiary of UCCA Group, brought the exhibition to the Chinese mainland for the first time. The exhibition traveled to Shanghai, Chengdu, and Shenzhen before arriving in Beijing in 2022 for the final stop of its tour in China. The collection features 34 Chinese contemporary artists (plus three more Chinese artists for the Beijing tour), bringing fun and enlightening surprises and experiences to local fans and art lovers. In Beijing, a section displays a curated collection of videos, photos, texts, and other materials that review the exhibition’s journey across China over the past year. In addition, a special unit for the Shanghai Disney Resort and a reading room have been set up, where visitors can write their own stories with Mickey.

Mickey Mouse art exhibition arrives in Beijing
At the entrance of the “Mickey: The True Original & Ever Curious” exhibition, a projection on the wall displays a famous quote from Walt Disney, “I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” [Photo by Zhang Rui/Chinafolk.org]
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Mickey Mouse art exhibition arrives in Beijing

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