Film special effects superstar Ray Harryhausen helped elevate stop motion animation to an art. His innovative and inspiring films, from the 1950s onwards, changed the face of modern movie making forever. This is the largest and widest-ranging exhibition of Ray Harryhausen’s work ever seen, with newly restored and previously unseen material from his incredible archive.
“This is not just special effects. This is art”
Ray Harryhausen's work included the films Jason and the Argonauts, the Sinbad films of the 1950s and 1970s, One Million Years B.C. and Mighty Joe Young. He inspired a generation of filmmakers such as Peter Jackson, Aardman Animations, Tim Burton, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and his influence on blockbuster cinema can be felt to this day.
Titan of Cinema traces Harryhausen’s career as a special effects guru, whose only limits was his boundless imagination. Titan of Cinema shows his creative processes: from embryonic preparatory sketches, through to model making and bringing characters to life who went onto terrorise and delight audiences in equal measure on the cinema screen.
“A landmark exhibition”
At the heart of this incredible display are Harryhausen’s creatures. See truly memorable characters like Medusa, the Kraken, and Bubo the owl, as well as his iconic skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts. See Harryhausen’s sketches and storyboards as well as original movie posters. Find out just how Dynamation works - the illusion of layering backgrounds and footage of real actors to show them interacting with models on film - which Harryhausen developed and used to incredible effect. And have a go at fighting the mighty Talos and deadly Harpies in our green screen set-up.
“Absolutely amazing exhibition”
BBC Radio Scotland
Make the most of the Smartify app and download before you visit. Listen to our free exhibition audio guide from director John Landis or scan artworks for even more info. You can also have a go at fighting one of the skeletons with our Augmented Reality feature.
This exhibition is in collaboration with the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday year. This exhibition brings his creations to life once more and celebrates the legacy of a filmmaker who changed the face of modern cinema.
Please note that some of the films explored in the exhibition reflect outdated cultural stereotypes and themes.
If you would like to learn more about Harryhausen or some of the themes raised in the exhibition, the following is a select list for further reading:
Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen: A Life in Pictures, The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation, Edinburgh, 2014
Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, The Art of Ray Harryhausen, Aurum Press Ltd, London, 2005
Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, A Century of Model Animation: From Méliès to Aardman, Aurum Press Ltd., London, 2008
Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, Aurum Press Ltd, London, 2003
Richard Holliss, Harryhausen: The Movie Posters, Titan Books, London, 2018
John Walsh, Harryhausen: The Lost Movies, Titan Books, London, 2019
Vanessa Harryhausen, Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 2020
Cinema Special Effects
George E. Turner with Dr. Orville Goldner and Michael H. Price, The Making of King Kong, Pulp Hero Press, U.S.A., 2018
Richard Rickitt, Special Effects: The History and Technique, Aurum Press Ltd, London, 2006
Race and Gender in Hollywood
Ellen C. Scott, Cinema Civil Rights; Regulation, Repression and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, 2015
Rhona J. Berenstein, White Heroines and Hearts of Darkness: Race, Gender and Disguise in 1930s Jungle Films, Film History, Vol. 6, No. 3, Exploitation Film, published by Indiana University Press, Autumn 1994
Donald Bogle, Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks; An interpretive history of Blacks in American Films, Bloomsbury, New York and London, 2016
BBC Two - Black Hollywood: 'They've Gotta Have Us' (three-part series available on BBC iPlayer)
Find out more
Parking for visitors is available at both Modern One and Modern Two. A donation is requested of £3 for up to 4 hours and £6 for 4-8 hours. Our payment meters have contactless capability.
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located 15 minutes’ walk from Princes Street. It includes two buildings, Modern One and Modern Two, set in a beautiful sculpture park.
In addition to the transport options below there are bike racks at each site and Just Eat Cycle Hire stations nearby.
Ray Harryhausen | Titan of Cinema
In line with Scottish Government restrictions this exhibition will be closed until 1 February. Please be aware that if you book a ticket beyond this date we may need to cancel or reschedule your ticket if the dates on restrictions are extended.
|Type of ticket||Monday-Friday (excluding August)||Saturday-Sunday (excluding August)||August
|Child 13 - 16||£10.00||£11.00||£12.00|
|Visitors aged over 60||£10.00||£11.00||£12.00|
|Visitors with disabilities||£10.00||£11.00||£12.00|
|Art Fund (full price)||£6.00||£6.50||£7.00|
|Art Fund (concession)||£5.00||£5.50||£6.00|
|Children 12 & under||free||free||free|
|Carer of visitors with disabilities||free||free||free|
Explore the work of Ray Harryhausen and his influence with these features and blogs.
Art and Ray Harryhausen
A look at the art that inspired special effects titan Ray Harryhausen.
See what animation students across Scotland created in response to our Ray Harryhausen | Titan of Cinema competition.
Horror and Harryhausen
We revel in the darker side of Ray Harryhausen’s films and explore some of the films that inspired him and those that he inspired.
Casting the Doctor
We look at the role that a Ray Harryhausen film played in casting the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker in Doctor Who.
Ray Harryhausen Shop
Gifts on the theme of film special effects and modern movie making
Friends of the Galleries get free unlimited entry to all exhibitions, and enjoy a wide range of exclusive benefits including early exhibition access, special events and 10% discount in our cafes.
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