Exploring Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane at Walt Disney Family Museum

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Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane

Where: Walt Disney Family Museum

When: March 8, 2018, through September 3, 2018.

Childhood memories are never forgotten.

If you ever wanted to step back into your childhood memories, this is your chance. Inside the Walt Disney Family Museum Theater Gallery until September 3, 2018, you can relive your childhood and the see the some of the Disney characters that you watched over and over (and over!).

Glen Keane is a talented artist who created many of our favorite characters in Disney Animation. Some characters that you may recognize include Ariel, Prince Eric, The Beast, Pochohantas, and Elliott. Those aren’t the only characters Glen Keane created, but those names grabbed your attention. I know that in my house we watched Pete’s Dragon (1977) more often than I’m sure I can recall. Glen Keane is the artist behind Elliott! I know when I told my husband he was brought back to those memories of watching Pete’s Dragon as a kid and the fact that we should find a copy to show our kids.

The note attached to the Elliot hand-drawn artwork read:

Scene of Elliot knocking on the window. Nothing looks good, I quit. But wait: what if I use my hand and pretend to know? Then, the hand is no longer just a drawing — it’s a sculpted form moving in space. It’s real, I can FEEL it. Animation isn’t about moving flat designs, but is, in fact, sculptural drawing!! – Glen Keane

The Little Mermaid

There were more than a few Ariel drawings from Glen Keane in this exhibit and I know that there are many young ladies out there that pretended to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid (1989) when they were playing dress up. As a freshman in high school when The Little Mermaid premiered I remember going to the theater and watching The Little Mermaid on the big screen. A few years later, when I would babysit the neighbor’s children we’d always make time to watch Ariel.

The drawing of Ariel blowing her hair out of her face is my favorite because that is the epitome of her character. It shows her as she was and how we remember her that first time we watched the movie. The maquettes were created so that the artist had something 3D to look at and feel when he was drawing the characters and it helps to see how the 2D drawings come to life.

Note attached to Ariel hand-drawn artwork read:

“I don’t want to design Ursula, I want to design and animate Ariel. “Can you draw a pretty girl?” My directors ask. I’ve been drawing my wife Linda (girl next door, Disney look) for years, so…Sure!” – Glen Keane


Speaking of iconic Disney Princesses, Rapunzel comes to mind. Tangled (2010) features our long-haired heroine and bad boy hero, Flynn Ryder. Not to mention the cheeky horse, Maximus. Here are some of my favorite Glen Keane drawings from that Disney film.

The Beast

Now, we cannot forget The Beast from Beauty and The Beast (1991). This misunderstood character had many watchers falling in love right along with Belle. Glen Keane seemed to capture all aspects of Beast perfectly so that he came to life on screen.

There were so many pieces of hand-drawn artwork, notes, quotes, and maquettes throughout the gallery and it was somewhat emotional to see images that we’ve grown up with on the walls. I think my favorite drawing is the one of Elliott because that was my movie when I was young. My family watched it all the time and seeing it brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood.

I am thankful that I had the chance to experience the Glen Keane Exhibit and also grateful that The Walt Disney Family Museum allowed us to take pictures while we were there because photos are not normally allowed in an exhibit. If you are in the San Francisco area I highly suggest you see this exhibit while you can. It is included in admission to The Walt Disney Family Museum.

My friend Dawn from BloggingMomof4.com put this video together of the Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane Exhibit. Take a look:

I have a few more pictures of Glen Keane’s artwork that I’d love to share with you! Keep scrolling.

Walt Disney Family Museum | Make Believe: The World of Glen Keane

Thank you to Disney for providing admission to the Walt Disney Family Museum to facilitate this post. 

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