With Tangled now released in cinemas, Disney has clocked up an impressive run of 50 animated feature films. Varying in quality, but most of them memorable, they’re staple viewing in most family homes.

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne is celebrating this achievement with an exhibition, Dreams Come True. It consists of sketches, concept art, and animation cels from seven Disney films: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Princess and the Frog, and Disney’s latest animated effort, Tangled.

While seven out of 50 films might seem to limit an exhibition, it demonstrated quite a range: Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are key films from the beginnings of Disney, Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast are some of the later, modern, golden films post-Walt Disney’s death, and the final two movies were recent Disney films, neither of which I had seen. All the works are arranged to take you through a timeline, from the beginnings of Disney animation all the way up to the latest 3D methods.

The art is quite diverse and from different stages of production, so you get a good sense of the planning that goes into conceptualising, developing and finalising the look and feel of a motion picture. For those that know the movies well, it’s also nice to see what hit the cutting room floor, and never quite made it into a movie.

I came away from the exhibition feeling nostalgic, with an urge to pick up pencil and paper and marvel in just how bad my drawing ability really is. In the week since I’ve seen the two most recent Disney movies and ordered Beauty and the Beast on Blu-ray, so I gather I found the exhibition a worthwhile experience. I had a teenager with me as well who enjoyed it, so if you’re looking for something to do with the kids in the twilight of the school holidays, it’s definitely worth a look.

The details: When Dreams Come True is at ACMI, Federation Square in Melbourne, until April 26. Tickets are available at the door or through the ACMI website.

* Matt Smith teaches media studies at La Trobe University and blogs at The End of the Spectrum