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Get an inside look at Hollywood through iconic movie art

“Drawing the Motion Picture: Production Art and Storyboards” is on view at the Harry Ransom Center, now through Sunday, July 16.

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People looking at an art exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center

Explore the beauty and complexity of moviemaking during the “Drawing the Motion Picture” exhibition.

Photo by Pete Smith, Harry Ransom Center

Houston — ahem, Austin — we have a problem. This movie exhibition is too good.

Go behind the scenes of your all-time favorite films from the silent era to present day at “Drawing the Motion Picture: Production Art and Storyboards,” on view now through Sunday, July 16 at the Harry Ransom Center.

The exhibition tells the story of more than 100 years of cinema history through rare concept paintings, set designs, scripts, and more. Think: “Top Gun,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” More than 50 movies are showcased, representing iconic films by legendary directors like Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, and Spike Lee.

Each featured piece of artwork, curated from the Center’s archival film holdings, provides viewers with a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the creative process behind filmmaking. Oh, so that’s what Alfred Hitchcock was thinking.

Two women posing in front of "The Red Shoes" storyboard.

“The Red Shoes” storyboard, enlarged on the gallery wall, feels larger than life and immerses visitors in the magic of movies.

Photo by Pete Smith, Harry Ransom Center

Whether you’re a movie buff, budding filmmaker, or just curious about Hollywood, you’re bound to give this exhibition rave reviews.

Must-see highlights of art-turned-cinema we’re adding to the list include:

  • Hein Heckroth’s vision for the ballet sequence in “The Red Shoes”
  • Mini storyboards from the “Apollo 13" shoot on NASA’s reduced-gravity aircraft
  • Storyboards that helped “Mad Men” achieve its meticulous mid-century style
  • Storyboards that diagram complex action scenes in “Return of the Jedi”
  • Concept paintings from Robert Wise’s “West Side Story”
  • Rare storyboards from the climatic scene at Griffith Observatory from “Rebel Without a Cause”

Bonus: The Paramount Theatre will also screen three films featured in “Drawing the Motion Picture” as part of its Summer Classic Film Series: “Malcolm X” (July 11), “The Red Shoes” (July 12), and “Raging Bull” (July 13). Buy tickets.

Admission to the Ransom Center, open Tuesday-Sunday, is always free. Pro tip: Ask for a complimentary Family Guide, full of exhibition-related activities to help immerse your kids in the magic of moviemaking.

See you at the exhibition

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