Tim Burton ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas” at the McNay Art Museum

Marking the 30th anniversary of filmmaker Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated film, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the McNay Art Museum will open “Dreamland | Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’” on view from August 17, 2023 to January 14, 2024. The exhibition presents maquettes, small-scale working models, used to make the iconic 1993 film and accessioned into the McNay’s Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts in 1994.

Visitors will be guided through the world of Burton and given an open invitation to conjure fantasy narratives of their own using surreal imagery from the McNay’s collection on display throughout the gallery.

 The exhibition spotlights Burton’s genius as seen through the presentation of original models of beloved characters like Oogie Boogie Exposed, Bone Crusher and the story’s hero Jack Skellington. Also included from the Academy Award-nominated film is a full set model of “Jack Skellington and his dog, Zero, in Jack’s Tower” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” made of painted wood, metal, plastic, fabric, found objects and more.

With a nod to Burton’s creative roots at Walt Disney, the exhibition features a “hall of peculiar portraits” filled with quirky subjects by artists José Clemente Orozco Farías, Pablo Picasso, Julie Heffernan, Eugene Berman, Marilyn Lanfear, Willem de Kooning, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Julie Speed, among others. Large-scale paintings and photographs by artists Paul Maxwell, Claudia Rogge, Robin Utterback and Sandy Skoglund also welcome visitors into colorful and arresting worlds.

“The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts makes the McNay unique among art museums across the country,” Matthew McLendon, director of the McNay, said. “This monumental anniversary of the treasured film ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ is the perfect opportunity not only to share Burton’s fascinating set and character models but also illuminate equally fascinating McNay artworks available to San Antonians throughout the year.”

Tim Burton, "Oogie Boogie Exposed" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," 1993. Painted foam, rubber and wire.
Tim Burton, “Oogie Boogie Exposed” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” 1993. Painted foam, rubber and wire. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin, TL1994. © Disney © Tim Burton

The Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts

The renowned Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts holds more than 12,000 objects and 2,000 rare books documenting more than 500 years of excellence in global theatre arts, representing the most significant collection of performing arts ephemera in the country. The collection’s namesake, San Antonio native and philanthropist Robert L. B. Tobin, believed preserving original theatre designs and sharing them in both educational and art museum settings is essential to the future of innovation in theatre design.

“Dreamland” will run concurrently through spring 2024 with a second maquette exhibition, “Big Little Stage,” featuring more than two dozen exquisite stage models from the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.

Recent theatre arts exhibitions at the McNay include “The Great Stage of Texas,” a celebration of internationally recognized American theatre artists affiliated with San Antonio, and “Picasso to Hockney: Modern Art on Stage,” a showcase of more than 100 artworks from the Tobin Collection presented at the McNay and selected museums across the country.

“Dreamland | Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’” is organized for the McNay Art Museum by R. Scott Blackshire, Ph.D., curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, and Kim Neptune, the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund assistant curator of the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts.

About McNay Art Museum  

The McNay Art Museum engages a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts. Built in the 1920s by artist and educator Marion Koogler McNay, the Spanish Colonial Revival residence became the site of Texas’ first modern art museum when it opened in 1954.

Today, 200,000 visitors a year enjoy works by modern masters including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The 25 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds include sculptures by Willie Cole, Robert Indiana, Luis A. Jiménez Jr., Alejandro Martín, George Rickey, Joel Shapiro, Kiki Smith, Tom Wesselmann and others. 

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