Loading Events

Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of LAIKA

Oct 14, 2017 - May 20, 2018
8:00 am to 5:00 pm
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
General accessibility


This fall, the Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center celebrate Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of LAIKA, a groundbreaking view behind-the-curtain into the visionary artistry and technology of the globally renowned animation studio.

At the heart of every LAIKA film are the artists who meticulously craft every element.  Through behind-the-scenes photography, video clips and physical artwork from its films, visitors will be immersed in LAIKA’s creative process, exploring the production design, sets, props, puppets, costumes, and world-building that have become the studio’s hallmarks. Their films are a triumph of imagination, ingenuity and craftsmanship and have redefined the limits of modern animation.

Film still from the animated movie Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings (Film Still) A cheeky moment between Beetle and Monkey. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS ©2016, TWO STRINGS, LLC

“Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center are thrilled to partner with LAIKA to present the wonders of this distinct enterprise,” said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director and Chief Curator of the Portland Art Museum. “LAIKA at its core is an artistic endeavor that embraces the past and infuses it with a 21st-century vision. LAIKA’s aesthetic vocabulary continues to be shaped by the people and uniqueness of this special state.”

Established in Portland, Oregon in 2005, LAIKA has produced four Oscar®-nominated features, including Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), The Boxtrolls (2014), ParaNorman (2012) and Coraline (2009).  Among LAIKA’s many accolades is a 2016 Scientific and Technology Oscar® for its rapid prototyping system, which uses 3D printers to revolutionize film production.  Through technological and creative innovations, LAIKA is devoted to telling new and original stories in unprecedented ways.

Film still from the animated movie Paranorman where a boy is looking under his bed and sees a monster's foot
ParaNorman (Film Still) Norman has a close scrape with a Zombie. PARANORMAN ©2012, LAIKA, LLC

“We believe storytelling is an important part of who we are,” says Travis Knight, President & CEO of LAIKA and the director of its most recent award-winning film, Kubo and the Two Strings.  “LAIKA embraces our great privilege to tell stories by creating films that bring people together, kindle imaginations and inspire people to dream. We are proud to be able to showcase our creative process through this partnership with the Portland Art Museum, one of the country’s greatest art institutions, and the Northwest Film Center. Art in its finest forms speaks to our shared humanity, opening us up to new ways of thinking and feeling and helping us to recognize the hidden connectivity of all things.  With this exhibit, LAIKA, PAM, and the Northwest Film Center have created something that can be part of that communal process of change and connection.”

During the course of the exhibition the Northwest Film Center will present wide-ranging programming showcasing the studio’s work and surveying the evolution of stop-motion animation since before the turn of the 20th century. Along with film exhibition programming, the Center will offer a range of animation classes, workshops, and visiting artist programs for students, artists, families, and community members of all ages, including exhibition offerings in its Global Classroom screening program for high school students.

Film still from the animated movie The Boxtrolls
The Boxtrolls (Film Still) A band of gurgling Boxtrolls. THE BOXTROLLS ©2014, BOXTROLLS, LLC

In a city renowned for its maker scene, Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of LAIKA and its related film and educational programming will be a celebration of the intersection of art, craft, film and technology. Proudly embracing the studio’s unconventional, independent Portland spirit, the exhibition and programs will serve to celebrate LAIKA’s singular position in Portland and in the global film community.

Organized by the Portland Art Museum and the Northwest Film Center in collaboration with LAIKA.


Behind the Curtain: The Art & Science of LAIKA | LAIKA Studios


Presenting Sponsor

Phil and Penny Knight

Lead Sponsor

Exhibition Series Sponsors

Major Sponsors

Helen Jo and Bill Whitsell
Clark Foundation
Ameriprise Financial
Columbia Threadneedle
KinderCare Education
Stoel Rives
US Bank
Ameriprise Financial


Laura S. Meier
The Jackson Foundation
Travel Portland


Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler
Elizabeth Lilley
Charles and Ruth Poindexter
Grace Serbu
Fran and John von Schlegell in honor of Jordan Schnitzer
Friends of Animating Life
The Heathman Hotel

Promotional Partner

Oregon Film

This exhibition is supported by the Oregon Cultural Trust