Dory, Dash, Woody, Buzz, Mike Wazowski, Zurg. They're just a few of the beloved heroes and villains dreamed up by Pixar Animation Studios.

Few people realize the hard work that goes into bringing these characters to life. Opening on May 24, 2018, The Museum and Science and Industry is unveiling the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts behind Toy StoryA Bug’s LifeThe IncrediblesFinding Nemo, and more timeless Pixar movies with its latest interactive exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar.

“Pixar’s pioneering technology sits at the intersection of art, engineering and science and shows that there are multiple paths to a STEM career,” says David Mosena, MSI president and CEO. "As an institution dedicated to inspiring the inventive genius in everyone, we are excited to show guests the unexpected ways that the fundamental skills taught in science learning – problem-solving, trial and error and iteration – are utilized to bring these beloved characters to life."

Created by the Museum of Science, Boston and Pixar Animation Studios, The Science Behind Pixar features more than 40 interactive elements. It's “a behind-the-scenes look at how our movies are made," explains Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. "The interactive exhibition gives people the opportunity to learn about the jobs our filmmakers do every day and tackle similar problems. It's a great demonstration of how much creativity and imagination is involved in the science, technology, engineering, art, and math thinking essential to our filmmaking process.”

Pixar at MSI© Michael Malyszko

Eight sections take visitors on a journey through the animation process: Modeling, Rigging, Surfaces, Sets and Cameras, Animation, Simulation, Lighting, and Rendering. Highlights include:

Sets and Cameras

Discover how a bug's-eye view was achieved for A Bug’s Life, through camera angles and computer-based large-set design. "One of the largest elements in the exhibit is a recreation of a set from A Bugs Life," explains Jeff Buonomo, the museum's manager of temporary exhibits. "In this interactive, guests learn about sets and cameras by controlling two miniature cameras. One tilts up, down, left or right, at ground level. The other moves to provide a top-down view. You can appreciate how the right camera angle can make a small blade of grass look gigantic!"


Envision how digital sculptures are created based on sketches from artists.


See how models are given a virtual skeleton to enable animators to add movement. "To teach rigging, one interactive allows visitors to move nine sliders to create expressions for Jessie from Toy Story 2," Bonomo comments. "Each slider controls a specific aspect of her eyebrows, eyelids, or pupils. By lowering her upper eyelids and raising her lower eyelids, you can make her eyes squint, but also make some funny faces! The fully rigged model for Jessie’s face has 700 controls enabling very fine control of her facial expressions."


Explore the techniques behind adding color and texture to every surface.


"This is my favorite interactive, also because it involves my favorite film, Finding Nemo," Bonomo enthuses. "Guests learn about how virtual lights can enhance the mood and believability of a Pixar film. Guests play lighting designer using a large-scale model of Dory. They can change the lights’ colors, brightness and even incorporate a water effect using a the common lighting tool; a moving gobos. It’s also a great photo-op!"

Pixar at MSI© Michael Malyszko

The Science Behind Pixar is sponsored locally by BMO Harris Bank, and runs through January 6, 2019. It is not included in general MSI admission, and requires an additional timed-entry ticket: $14 for adults and seniors and $11 for children. For more information, visit the Museum of Science and Industry at


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