Cinema Arts Galleries

Mary Blair’s Wonderland: Imagining Disney’s Alice

February 23, 2024 – September 7, 2024
Curated by Mary Platt

A Genius of Color and Style

Mary Blair’s concept art for Walt Disney’s animated “Alice in Wonderland” (1951) showcased this famous Disney artist’s vibrant and stylized approach, as celebrated in the current Hilbert Museum exhibition “Mary Blair’s Wonderland: Imagining Disney’s ‘Alice.’” The show runs through September 7 in the museum’s Cinema Arts galleries.

Blair’s use of bold colors and simplified shapes created a visually striking and modern interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. Her whimsical, surreal design choices, exemplified in her curious landscapes and fantastical characters, added a playful, dreamlike quality to her concept art for the animated film.

As with all the movies Blair worked on, however, the Disney animation team turned away from her distinctive modernist style and reverted to using the traditional rounded character design they had used with success on all of the studio’s previous animated features. Blair’s influence can still be seen, however, in the vibrant colors, psychedelic flora, fantastical creatures and kaleidoscopic backgrounds that define Wonderland’s aesthetic.

Mary Blair’s artistic imprint on Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” remains a testament to her ability to elevate storytelling through her unique style of visual enchantment. As exemplified in the Hilbert exhibition, her innovative approach to color and form not only left an indelible mark on the film but also solidified her legacy as a pioneering force in animation concept art within the Disney canon.


The Hilbert Museum recommends FREE online reservations for entry. Guests who arrive without a reservation will be assisted by our staff as available and admitted as space permits. We look forward to seeing you!