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Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s Modern Two to reopen with landmark show

Front facing image of the Modern Two building at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

A thrilling and immersive exhibition on the pioneering and unparalleled work of Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013), the cinematic titan whose movies shaped the face of modern cinema, will be coming to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) this Autumn, as part of the late filmmaker’s centenary celebrations.

Working in close collaboration with TheRay and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, the National Galleries are proud to present Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema, which will lead the reopening of Modern Two at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art from Saturday 24 October.

Titan of Cinema will be the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever of the art of the legendary trailblazer Harryhausen, who elevated stop-motion animation to an art form between the 1950s-1980s, and whose exhilarating movies inspired a generation of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, among them Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Sir Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro.

The exhibition was originally scheduled for May this year and was delayed due to current events, but we are delighted to share that it will now lead the reopening of Modern Two with an extended run from October until September 2021. Visitors can secure their tickets via our new online booking system, available from Wednesday. 2 September on our website. Visitors can book tickets up to 3 months in advance.

Ray Harryhausen was responsible for some of cinema’s most magical moments. Titan of Cinema will showcase the original models that were miraculously brought to life on screen by Harryhausen’s mastery of stop-frame animation, such as the iconic skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts (1963), the Cyclops from his highly-influential Sinbad series, and his trademark UFOs from 1956’s Earth vs the Flying Saucers. The models shown will include those which would later inspire movies such as Lord of the RingsStar WarsJurassic ParkPan’s Labyrinth and Mars Attacks!

Also on display will be the young Harryhausen’s very first models, including a marionette inspired by the gorilla from King Kong, conceived by the film’s special effects supervisor Willis O’Brien, and artwork from Mighty Joe Young, the first film that Harryhausen and O’Brien worked on together, and the movie which effectively launched Harryhausen’s career.

These miniature monuments to cinematic history are joined by a treasure trove of posters, personal memorabilia, original photographs, storyboard illustrations and the drawings and art that inspired Harryhausen’s creatures and films, all taken from his remarkable collection.

Visitors will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face the models and memorabilia from the films of their childhood. Younger visitors can learn all about Harryhausen’s pioneering movie-making process, and the great influence he’s had upon many of the movies and animations of today, including Wallace and Gromit.

The exhibition also traces Harryhausen’s unique connection to Scotland. Harryhausen’s wife Diana was the great-great granddaughter of the Scottish explorer David Livingstone, and both she and her husband developed a strong affinity for the country. One of Harryhausen’s final projects was to design a statue of the legendary missionary, which now stands in the town of Blantyre.

We want all visitors to stay safe while visiting our buildings, and new measures have been implemented so that the health and safety of our visitors, employees and volunteers can be ensured. We have secured the UK-wide industry standard ‘We’re Good to Go’ accreditation, which means businesses across the sector can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and check they have the required processes in place.

Simon Groom, Director of Modern and Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “We are delighted to open Mod Two with the largest ever exhibition devoted to Ray Harryhausen. His creative vision, and ability to realise scenes of enduring dramatic and imaginative power, are as relevant now as they have ever been. The exhibition promises to transport all visitors, young and old, into the amazing -world of one of the greatest innovators of special effects in the history of cinema.”


The exhibition is ticketed access only. You can book your tickets on the venue website from Wednesday 2 September, up to 3 months in advance. Stay safe while visiting and follow physical-distancing rules. You can read more on our Visitor frequently asked questions here.