A Tour of the Pixar Archives – Where Creativity is Saved and Savored

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Pixar Archive Tour Incredibles 2
Lead Archivist and Pixar Historian Christine Freeman at Incredibles 2 Long Lead Press day, as seen on April 5, 2018 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores)

In an undisclosed location somewhere near San Francisco there is a storage house of art, creativity and characters we all know and love as part of our family. The Pixar Archives house not only the smallest doodles that lead to what we’ve seen on the big screen. Every movie that Pixar releases takes anywhere from 4-5 years to create and everything that is presented during the design development and meetings is saved for later.

During my recent trip to Pixar Animation studios, we were given a very rare experience – a tour of the Pixar Archives. Inside temperature-controlled spaces are original paintings, maquettes of characters and even one-of-a-kind Halloween costumes created by employees and artists at Pixar. Besides preserving the items inside for future artists, the models and artwork can be used as references for sequels or for inspiration for future projects.

In a building, loving named Queens after the New York neighborhood you will find Archivists who not only lovingly organize the items inside but also help to get them restored as needed. The archives contain everything from news articles about Pixar to awards that the company has won as well as given out to employees.

Pixar Archive Tour Incredibles 2
Exhibitions archivist Melissa Woods and Archives Manager Juliet Roth at Incredibles 2 Long Lead Press day, as seen on April 5, 2018 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores)

As a fan of Pixar movies, it’s hard to not get excited walking through the Archives, but of course, no touching is allowed. From rolling library files filled with boxes from all of the movies to specially made boxes to hold the hand-crafted models of characters that are scanned for animation purposes.

When production began for Incredibles 2, artists went into the Pixar Archives to see some of the original character designs from the first movie. These concept characters can actually be seen in Incredibles 2 and some inspired the villains of the new film. Original concept artwork can be seen of Incredibles themselves and how they’ve changed over the years of animation.

Each item inside the Pixar Archive is lovingly cared for by the Archivist and their team to make sure they are there for future artists to learn from and be inspired by. Just a peek inside this world is amazing, and makes you wish you can dig through each file drawer and box to see all of the treasures inside.

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