September 25, 2009

‘Lion King’ costumes given to Smithsonian

Disney Theatrical Productions donated objects from the award-winning musical The Lion King to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History this week.

Costume elements from the show will join objects from the musicals Cats, Rent and the King and I in the museum's permanent entertainment collections.

Designed by Julie Taymor, the costume components include Simba's stylized lion mask and headdress -- co-designed by Michael Curry -- and the costume, custom shoes and hat designed for Rafiki. The donated items were conceived for the original Broadway production of The Lion King, which opened Nov. 13, 1997.

Taymor's designs bring the story of Simba the lion cub, fulfilling his destiny to become king in the African Pride Lands, to life, Brent D. Glass, director of the museum, said in a statement. This donation is a significant addition to the museum's entertainment collection and joins materials representative of Broadway hits.

It is a tremendous honor to see Taymor's groundbreaking creative vision recognized by a world-renowned organization like the Smithsonian, said Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions. 'The Lion King' is more than a musical -- it has become a global phenomenon, and this donation forever seals its place as an icon of American culture in one of our country's leading history museums.