Edinburgh gallery launches ‘virtual experience’ devoted to Hollywood special effects legend Ray Harryhausen

A Scottish art gallery is to make an exclusive exhibition devoted to one of Hollywood's best-known special available to his fans all over the world after being forced to close its doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:28 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:33 pm
A model of Medusa from Clash of the Titans, Ray Harryhausen's final movie, is a star attraction in the exhibition.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has turned its Ray Harryhausen tribute into a “virtual experience” after spending years working on the exhibition with the legendary movie-maker’s family.

A £10 pass, which is available from today, will offer unlimited access to the online incarnation of the exhibition, which explores how Harryhausen inspired cinematic legends like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Peter Jackson thanks to his groundbreaking work on Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Sitans, Earth vs the Flying Saucers and the Sinbad series.

They will be able to secure glimpses of rarely-seen models, drawings, sketches, photographs, posters and storyboards drawn from the archives of the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, which is run by the family of the Californian-born special effects legend and his wife, who both passed away in 2013.

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The couple developed a strong affinity to Scotland as Mrs Harryhausen was the great-great granddaughter of the Scottish explorer David Livingstone. One of his final projects was to design a statue of the legendary missionary for his birthplace at Blantyre, Lanarkshire.

A series of short films has been created for the exhibition, featuring the likes of Scottish comic book writer Mark Millar, Oscar-winning special effects expert Randy Cook, who was honoured for Lord of the Rings, actresses Martine Beswick and Caroline Munro, and BAFTA-winning animators Nina Gantz and Daisy Jacob.

Ticket-holders will also be able to attend a series of planned live events during the run of the exhibition, which was created and launched last year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Harryhausen’s birth.

The National Galleries of Scotland, which runs the attraction, said the new virtual experience was the first it had ever created for an exhibition in its history.

Originally due to be staged between May and October of last year, the exhibition only opened at the end of October due to the prolonged closure of the gallery due to last year’s lockdown but audience numbers were badly affected by social distancing and travel restrictions.

The show was brought to a halt in December when new restrictions were imposed and is now due to remain on display at the gallery until February of next year when it reopens.

Simon Groom, director of modern and contemporary art, said: “We’re only too aware of the huge number of visitors around the world who had hoped to see our landmark exhibition, but have unfortunately been unable to.

"So we are absolutely delighted to share, for the first time in the galleries’ history, this virtual exhibition experience which is available to anyone, anywhere, at any time, worldwide.

The virtual experience devoted to Ray Harryhausen can be experienced from today for just £10.

“Packed with information and insight, and with access to special live events, it is essential viewing for those who have seen the show – an amazing visual record of an unforgettable experience – as much as for those who won’t have the possibility to visit Edinburgh

"The wonders of Ray Harryhausen’s imagination have beamed into homes across the world for many decades, and we are delighted to continue that tradition with our very first virtual exhibition.”

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The skeletons from the film Jason and the Argonauts are among Ray Harrhausen's best-known creations.

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The Ray Harryhausen exhibition is the first in the history of the National Galleries of Scotland to be turned into a virtual experience.