This post was made possible by 1Berkshire. They provided us an itinerary for our visit to the Berkshires which included a visit to Animagic Museum of Animation, a great thing to do in the Berkshires. As always, all opinions are our own.
Movie Magic … In The Berkshires?
Our experiences with Jersey Family Fun have brought us to a variety of places from high tech to no tech to expensively decorated to untouched works of nature. Recently we were hosted by 1Berkshire to explore some fun family spots in Massachusetts and we landed in Lee, Massachusetts. Lee is the New England Berkshires town you imagine; snow covered, quaint stores and classic architecture. We arrived ahead of schedule so we found a luncheonette as we watched the small town life outside. Our afternoon stop was to the Animagic Museum of Animation (museum website) and we were sure curious as to why a museum of animation would be in that small, seemingly timeless town.
When we found that nondescript small storefront with the Animagic sign we were still confused as to what we’d find behind the door. The space inside is divided by a heavy curtain, and the first section is a mix of gift shop and art gallery. Many of the items on display are scientific based or mind trick type toys – the drinking bird, magnetic levitation and a hologram maker. My kids enjoyed playing around, but my husband and I were still curious as to what it all meant. Coupled with the art gallery and the posters from Die Hard and Terminator … seriously, what are we going to find at the Animagic Museum of Animation?
The proprietor of this unique space is Eugene Mamut. Eugene is an accomplished special effects creator who relocated to the Berkshires and Animagic to share his love and knowledge of movie magic. After a few words in the lobby about Animagic’s mission and purpose, he took us behind the curtain to the next room for the 20 minute “tour.” The room had displays of movie posters, some computer equipment, and other items we couldn’t identify. We were still wondering why we were there … but as Eugene began the tour it all was explained. The Berkshires is home to many special effects creators and animators – yes really – who followed each other to the region. Movie effects, commercial effects even amusement park ride effects are created in the Berkshires!
So what DO you do at the Animagic Museum of Animation?
3 Things to do at the Animagic Museum of Animation
- Participate in Hands On Special Effects at Animagic – How is it that the eyes of the portrait follow you? Is that water dripping or standing still? You’ll learn how lights and tricks of the mind can create some fun illusions that are used in the movies.
- Listen to a Fun History Lesson Eugene worked on movies from the early 1980s on, and has seen how special effects and animation has advanced through the years. The walls of the museum are covered with photos of the animators and creators who reside in the Berkshires and still do work today. And see a REAL Oscar! Eugene’s Academy Award for his work on Predator is on display.
- Film Making! Create the character out of clay then make it move for your own animated short. Eugene helps you along each step of the way to make the film and he keeps it fun!
My kids enjoyed it so much more than I would have expected when we first walked in. As Eugene says, all you need now for the work of animation is in your pocket (with your smartphone). It’s difficult to convey the excitement of someone showing them how to do it though! He’ll even show you what apps are best so you can keep creating at home. Eugene has a way with the kids to keep them interested and focused, and his passion and talent really shows through. No other visitors were there with us during our visit and we felt like we were guests in Eugene’s home, with his personal collection and welcoming nature. We could have stayed another hour, we were so entertained.
Watch our animation videos from the Animagic Museum of Animation!
For more photos from our visit to Animagic Museum of Animation, check out our Facebook Album.
Animagic Museum of Animation is located at 135 Main Street in Lee, Massachusetts. This Berkshires musem is open 7 days a week, by appointment only. Animagic Museum of Animation tours are free (donations suggested), workshops are an additional fee.