For Immediate Release

May 17, 2005




Marjorie Sweeney

718.784.4520 ext 224

Tomoko Kawamoto

718.784.4520 ext 225

moving image GOES ‘GUMBY!’

exhibitION featuring ART clokey’s CLAY CHARACTER opens june 18, 2005

The Museum of the Moving Image celebrates the 50th anniversary of Gumby®, the beloved clay character created by animation pioneer Art Clokey in 1955, with a new exhibition opening June 18, 2005, and running through January 15, 2006. Art Clokey will be present at the Museum on June 18 for the screening of several of his films including Gumby: The Movie.

For five decades, Gumby and his pals Pokey™, Prickle™, Goo™ and the nefarious Blockheads™ have entertained millions of children (and adults) around the world. Gumby has appeared in over 200 episodes of the TV show, starred in his own feature film, and even inspired Eddie Murphy’s legendary Saturday Night Live skits. This summer, Gumby will become part of the digital universe with the release of his first video game, Gumby Vs. The Astrobots.

Rochelle Slovin, Director of the Museum of the Moving Image and curator of the new exhibition, says, "For fifty years, Gumby, brought to life by Art Clokey’s beguiling stop-motion animation, has endured as a beloved character, a pop culture icon, and an immensely popular consumer product. I expect the exhibition to inspire a new generation to explore the magic of stop-motion animation."

GUMBY! will explore the history and how-to of one of the most popular television characters ever created, with daily demonstrations of stop-motion animation techniques demonstrated on an actual Gumby set. Visitors will also be able to make their own short stop-motion films at the Museum’s animation stands. The exhibition will showcase original Gumby props, consumer products and prototypes, as well as look at the behind-the-scenes world of Gumby (and creator


Art Clokey) through still photographs, scripts, and storyboards. The Museum will also screen classic Gumby episodes from the last five decades, as well as the feature film Gumby: The Movie, and Gumbasia, the original short film in which Clokey created the very first version of Gumby. Art Clokey himself will be at the Museum on June 18 for the exhibition opening to sign autographs and greet Gumby fans.

The character of Gumby was first created in the early 1950s, when Clokey, then a student at the University of Southern California, worked with the famous montage artist Slavko Vorkapich on developing kinesthetic film principles. This led to Clokey’s first extended exercise in stop-motion animation, Gumbasia (1953), a short film in which abstract clay shapes moved to jazz rhythms. Sam Engel, the president of the Motion Pictures Producers Association, loved the film and encouraged Clokey to use these techniques to create quality children’s programming. Gumby made his first appearance in 1956 on The Howdy Doody Show. An immediate hit with viewers, Gumby was soon given his own show.

For the earliest Gumby episodes, Clokey and his team fashioned the clay figures by hand, using rolling pins and cookie cutters. Later, poured molds were used, but throughout the original Gumby Show (1957-67) the figures retained a distinctly homemade look, with occasional thumbprints or pinch marks visible in the clay. Clokey’s interest in Eastern mysticism has also influenced Gumby. The bump on Gumby’s head is a direct nod to Buddhist tradition: "We gave him the little bump of wisdom that the Buddhists have," Clokey recalled. "The only difference is that they have it over the center of their head and Gumby’s is over to the side." (The location of the bump was inspired by a cowlick that gave Art Clokey’s father a distinctive hairdo. An original photo portrait of Clokey senior is in the exhibition.) And Gumby’s friends Prickle and Goo were inspired by the Zen scholar Alan Watts. Watts claimed there were two types of people in the world, the prickly and the gooey; inspiring Clokey to create Prickle, the professorial dinosaur, and the soft-voiced "mermaid" Goo.

The Gumby Show, with its earthy, surreal combination of simple stories and complex allusions, was one of the first shows to be structured in a way that could be enjoyed by both children and adults. The clay is medium and metaphor, as well as an avenue for a type of visual comedy that was accessible to every generation of viewers. When Gumby and Pokey are in a stock car race with the Blockheads, they are able to "pass" the villains in their car by driving right through them. In "Lawn Party," Gumby and Pokey turn on their little television to watch the antics of so-called "animated people"—humans, that is—moving jerkily around and behaving much like Saturday morning cartoon characters.

The show’s magical, playful quality has inspired generations of animators such as Will Vinton, John Lasseter, Nick Park, and Tim Burton, as well as influencing contemporary computer graphics and video art. Even early experiments with 3D computer animation featured Gumby. In 1984, Dick Lundin and Hank Grebe chose to use the Gumby character in the very first attempts at "digital 3D flexible jointed character animation"; at the New York Institute of Technology’s computer graphics research lab. For fifty years, Gumby has been part of the pantheon of pop culture, and will continue to entertain and inspire in the years to come.


GUMBY! will be shown as part of Behind the Screen, the Museum’s core exhibition. Behind the Screen illuminates the many processes involved in producing, marketing, and exhibiting the moving image, with more than a thousand film and television artifacts, computer-based interactive experiences, commissioned installations, audio-visual materials, and demonstrations of professional equipment and techniques. A schedule of the opening day film program is below.


Special film program Saturday, June 18

Art Clokey will be present to greet the public and sign autographs in the Museum shop.

2:00 p.m.

Gumby Through The Years

This eighty-minute compilation program, made especially for the Museum by Joe Clokey, Art’s son, shows the highlights and history of Gumby’s career, starting with the abstract short film Gumbasia (1955) and including a selection of episodes from the 1950s through the 1980s.

4:30 p.m.

Gumby: The Movie

1995, 90 mins. Directed by Art Clokey. In his feature film debut, Gumby and his rock band, the Clayboys, team up to fight the nefarious Blockheads. In contrast with Toy Story, the computer-animated film of the same year, Gumby: The Movie preserves the simplicity and handmade charm of the original series.


This exhibition is presented in collaboration with TheDeepArchives Inc. Animation Studios and Premavision Studios. Information:


Wednesdays & Thursdays: 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Fridays: 12:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays: 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
(Tuesdays, school groups only by appointment.)

Film Screenings

Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday afternoons (see above for schedule).


Adults: $10.00
Senior citizens/college students with ID: $7.50
Children (age 5-18): $5.00
Members, children under 5: Free
Fridays, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.: Free
Paid Admission includes film screenings.

For Program Information

Call 718.784.0077 or visit


35 Avenue at 36 Street in Astoria
By subway take R or V trains (R or G on weekends) to Steinway Street—N or W trains to 36 Avenue.


The Museum of the Moving Image is grateful for the generous support of numerous corporations, foundations, and individuals. The Museum receives vital funding from the City of New York through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Additional government support is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Natural Heritage Trust (administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation). The Museum occupies a building owned by the City of New York, and wishes to acknowledge the leadership and assistance of Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, Helen Marshall, Queens Borough President, City Council member Eric Gioia, and the entire New York City Council under the leadership of Speaker Gifford Miller.

Copyright © 2005, Museum of the Moving Image