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Photo: Wendell Walker


D’Oh! Animating America’s Funniest Family

Monday, Jun 7, 2021

Location: Amphitheater Gallery

The Simpsons first appeared in 1987 as a recurring animated short on The Tracey Ullman Show, and debuted as a half-hour series on the Fox network in December 1989. Audiences immediately connected with the show’s distinctive visual style and its mix of acerbic parody and slapstick comedy. Now in its 31st season, The Simpsons is the longest-running series in the history of television.

Before switching to digital animation in 2002, The Simpsons was made using traditional cel animation. In this process, images are hand-painted onto transparent plastic sheets —or cels—and photographed sequentially over painted backgrounds. Some of the thousands of cels used to create each half-hour episode were made available for purchase, enabling avid fans to amass collections featuring their favorite characters and gags.

This exhibition presents a selection of character art and cels from the collection of animation enthusiasts Bill Heeter and Kristi Correa. Their collection provides a window into the evolution of The Simpsons’s character design, captures some of the funniest moments of life in Springfield, and represents the connection between an iconic television show and its devoted fans.

Special thanks to Bill Heeter and Kristi Correa, and to Margaret Bullock and Rock Hushka of the Tacoma Art Museum. The lighting of this exhibition has been generously supported by Lutron Electronics, utilizing their state-of-the-art Ketra lighting system.