Melbourne exhibition opens new audience for Mary & Max

Mary & Max - The exhibitionThe behind-the-scenes exhibition at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image is connecting young audiences with the characters from Adam Elliot’s claymation film Mary & Max.

“Many schools have taken up programs to allow their students to explore stop-motion animation, and the exhibition gives them an insight into how it’s done on a large scale. While the film is not aimed at children, kids relate to the film on a different level,” ACMI curator Fiona Trigg told Encore.

Mary & Max made a respectable $1.4m at the Australian box office, but the exhibition could see it spark the interest of more people. ACMI hopes the Mary & Max exhibition, which opened on Monday, will benefit from the 600+ people visiting the Screen Worlds permanent exhibition every day. Trigg said the exhibition has been “really crowded”, with significant numbers of school-age children visiting during the first week.

The exhibition features character puppets, sets and props used in the making of the film. Although about 90 percent of the materials used in Mary & Max were destroyed at the end of production, Elliott and producer salvaged the rest. ACMI agreed to store the material on a temporary basis, and the exhibition was developed as a result. The project cost under $30,000.

Elliott publicly said he was “not enthused at all” at the prospect of working on the exhibition, but according to Trigg, he is much more enthusiastic now, so much that he took visiting French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet on a tour of the show this week.

“As a creative person, Adam is keen to move on to his next project, but once the exhibition started to become a reality he became very excited about it. He showed it to Jeunet yesterday, and we felt very proud to present his work in that kind of context,” said Trigg.

Mary & Max is presented in a new small gallery at ACMI. Unlike international events such as the successful Pixar exhibition, it is free to ACMI visitors.

“There were more costs associated [with Pixar]. This is a more intimate scale exhibition, and as the film was largely funded by the Victorian government, as a government organisation we feel it’s part of our purpose to allow Victorians access to things they helped pay for,” explained Trigg.

After its Melbourne season, the exhibition will tour Victoria later in the year, but there are no plans to take it to other states or territories.

“Touring is new territory for us; we’ve cooperated with Arts Victoria for the regional tour, but we haven’t really investigated touring it Australia-wide. Touring is quite an expensive operation so we would need to raise money to take it around the country,” said Trigg.

No decision has been made about the incorporation of Mary & Max materials into Screen Worlds once the tour is completed. According to Trigg, Melodrama Pictures is in discussions with the National Film and Sound Archive to take on a large part of the material into their collection.

Trigg is currently working on the upcoming Tim Burton exhibition that will open as part of Melbourne’s winter masterpieces. Burton himself will come down to Melbourne to present the exhibition and offer master classes to Australian audiences and filmmakers.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.