The amazing folks at the Walt Disney Family Museum have been kind enough to share a few photos and stories with us from their archive of rare Disney items. Attached below are photos and notes from the 10 galleries which represent the stages of Walt's life. The Museum opens to the public on October 10th, 2009:
Information About The Walt Disney Family Museum and Photos From Gallery 1:
The fascinating and inspiring story of Walt Disney, whose artistry, creations, and vision helped define 20th-century American culture, will be brought to life at The Walt Disney Family Museum, which opens in San Francisco in October 2009. The Museum will illuminate Walt Disney’s tremendous successes, disappointments, and unyielding optimism as he pursued innovation and excellence while entertaining and enchanting generations worldwide through his pioneering ventures. The creator of Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disneyland, and the global yet distinctly American company that bears his name, Disney was an independent risk-taker who started his first business at the age of 19 and worked tirelessly to elevate animation to an art form. He invented timeless characters and stories that brought the fantastical to life and continue to inspire a sense of wonder. Through animated and live action films, television programs, and theme parks, Disney created global symbols, icons, and characters that, more than 40 years after his death, are an indelible part of popular culture in America and around the world. The Walt Disney Family Museum will illustrate how Disney’s irrepressible creativity enriched the imagination of generations. The Museum will tell the story of the man behind the myth in Disney’s own voice and in exhibits that reveal his expansive vision, from early drawings of some of his most popular characters to plans for Disneyland and EPCOT. “My father's name is probably one of the most well-known names around the world, but as the ‘brand’ or trademark has spread, for many, the man has become lost,” said Diane Disney Miller, one of the Museum’s founders. “We are committed to telling the story of Walt Disney’s life, in his own words, and in the words of others who knew him well and worked with him. My father was very open and approachable, and in many conversations and interviews that were captured in audio, you will be able to hear in the galleries as you learn the story of his life. It is a wonderful story. Dad himself loved to tell it. Thanks to the amazing work of many dedicated people, we are fortunate to be able to tell it here using the tools he worked with—art, music, film, and technology—to present an honest yet affectionate portrait of this amazing artist and man.” “From Steamboat Willie to Pinocchio to EPCOT, Walt Disney’s unyielding ambition was to ignite a sense of wonder and to enrapture audiences through great storytelling,” said Richard Benefield, founding director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. “He recognized the power of art to spark the imagination, and time and again, pushed himself and his companies to the breaking point as he pursued the highest level of excellence in feature animation. The Walt Disney Family Museum will present the compelling story of his life—of his successes and failures—as he entertained and enlightened the nation while it struggled with the Great Depression, joined the fight of World War II, and entered a golden age of prosperity and preeminence.” About Walt Disney The Walt Disney Family Museum will shed light on Disney’s remarkable life. One of five children, Disney was born in Chicago on December 5, 1901. He spent his early years in rural Missouri, where he developed a love of nature, of drawing, and of trains. After the family sold their failing farm and moved to Kansas City in 1911, Disney began working on his father’s newspaper route and developed a love of the stage. When his family moved back to Chicago in 1917, Disney drew cartoons and took photographs for his high school newspaper and attended night classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. During World War I, he was rejected by the army because of his age. He enlisted in the Red Cross Overseas and served as an ambulance driver in France. An ambulance similar to the one he drove in Europe will be exhibited at the Museum. The Museum will chronicle Disney’s early, fitful starts at developing live and animated films, including the hardship with his first cartoon company in Kansas City, where he settled after he returned from Europe. After Laugh-O-gram Films went bankrupt in 1923, Disney took the train to California, with $40 in his pocket. By the end of the 1920s, despite his humble Hollywood beginnings, Disney rose to international fame and recognition with the invention of the world’s most famous mouse. His studio also enjoyed great financial success—and changed the animation industry—with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), its first feature-length animated film and a movie that skeptics had warned Disney against making. On the other hand, Disney’s animation studio nearly went bankrupt after the completion of Fantasia (1940), a film that received mixed reviews in its day although it is now celebrated as a cinematic landmark. Throughout these decades, Disney pushed groundbreaking technological innovations that revolutionized animation and focused on the areas of story, character development, color, dimensionality, and original music to improve his storytelling. He consistently challenged himself and his employees to surpass what they had already achieved. The Museum will illuminate Disney’s parallel interests in the fantastic and real. After completing the early-1940s animated masterpieces Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi, and after a hiatus mandated by World War II, Disney began to expand the scope of the studio’s work by making live-action documentaries about wildlife and the environment that reflected his childhood love of nature. He sent a team of naturalists to Alaska for a year to film anything they might find interesting. The result was Seal Island, which won the 1949 Academy Award® for best two-reel documentary. The Museum will also explore his marketing acumen. In the 1950s, lacking the funds to complete Disneyland, Disney embraced TV as a platform to test and promote his ideas while securing the financing needed to complete what would become the world’s first theme park. Disney, who always looked toward a utopian future, was enchanted by the promise of technology. In addition to being an early champion of color television, stereo simulcasting, and widescreen technology, he brought his interest in transportation to bear by opening the first daily-operating Monorail system in the United States and creating the PeopleMover—an innovative tram system with no on-board motors—in Disneyland. Toward the end of his life, Disney developed innovative attractions for global events, notably the 1960 Olympics and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Beginning in 1960, Walt and his key creative executives approached several American corporations with the intent of collaborating on major shows and attractions for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. The result was four of the most popular attractions at the Fair: the General Electric Progressland featuring Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress, the UNICEF Pavilion sponsored by Pepsi-Cola featuring, “it's a small world,” the Ford Wonder Rotunda featuring Walt Disney's Magic Skyway, and the State of Illinois Pavilion featuring Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. These attractions were later exported to Disneyland in California. Disney’s work with Robert Moses inspired him to develop a new paradigm, EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), a project Walt described as “a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems…a showcase to the world of the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.” With a unique city infrastructure that separated pedestrians and traffic, EPCOT foreshadowed the New Urbanism movement by 30 years. Inside the Museum: An American Story The stories of Disney’s life, creativity, family, and the processes and innovations he brought to his art will be told through a series of ten galleries. Highlights of the Museum will include: • Drawings Disney made in his youth • Drawings and cartoons from Laugh-O-gram Films, Disney’s first company • Early drawings of Mickey Mouse • Storyboards, a Disney innovation that mapped out timeless film classics • The technically innovative Multiplane Camera that brought vibrancy and depth to his revolutionary feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs • The unique Snow White Academy Award®, which included a full-size Oscar® and seven miniature castings • The narrow-gauge Lilly Belle train he built for his Hollywood home, which recalled his youth and helped spur his vision for Disneyland • A model of the Disneyland of Walt’s imagination Throughout the exhibits, visitors will find rare film clips, concept art, scripts, musical scores, and cameras that Disney and his staff used in creating his characters and films. The visually stunning design incorporates movie posters that come to life to show scenes from Disney films, interactive light tables, and discovery drawers that add nuance and layer to the story of his life. Visitors will find hundreds of individual animation cels that reveal the labor-intensive animation process. The exhibits will also pay tribute to Disney’s many groundbreaking achievements and innovations, among them: • The first film that successfully synchronized sound and animation • The first movie soundtrack released as a consumer recording • The first original song from a cartoon to become a national hit (“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”) • One of the first nature documentaries and the first to receive an Academy Award® Disney and his family will be represented, as well, in photographs, artifacts, and home movies. Although famous for his work behind the camera for Walt Disney Productions, Disney was an avid home moviemaker throughout his life. The Walt Disney Family Museum will exhibit to the public for the first time clips that ranged from experiments with trick shots (unspilling a glass of milk) to reels that documented Disney’s life at home with his wife, Lilly; his daughters, Diane and Sharon; and his brother and business partner, Roy, and his brother’s wife, Edna Francis. Walt Disney Family Museum: Facilities The Walt Disney Family Museum is located in three historic buildings within the Presidio of San Francisco, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of the National Park Service. The centerpiece is a former army barracks at 104 Montgomery Street, redesigned and upgraded by architecture firm Page & Turnbull of San Francisco, and with interior architecture and installations designed by the Rockwell Group. The Museum uses the building’s original domestic-scale rooms to frame the story of Disney’s life and incorporates a wide range of materials and technologies, from historic documents and artifacts, to listening stations and other interactive displays, to more than 200 video monitors. In addition to the galleries, the Museum contains a 123-seat screening facility, a learning center, a store, and a café. The Museum campus includes a former gymnasium that houses the Walt Disney Family Foundation’s collections and offices. The building is the site of a 2,000 square foot hall that will be used for special programs and concerts until the special exhibition program begins in January 2012. A third small building in the Presidio will house the Museum’s mechanical equipment. Gallery 2 - Hollywood (1923-1928)
Walt arrived in California in 1923 hoping to find work as a director. But when he received a contract for his own work, he launched Disney Bros. Studio with his brother Roy. By the end of 1924, Walt was focusing on story development and directing and was no longer working as an animator. After several business setbacks, Disney created Mickey Mouse, which established Disney Bros. Studio as the leading animation studio in the country. With the third Mickey Mouse film, Steamboat Willie, Walt joined the vanguard of the talking-picture revolution by creating an animated film with synchronized sound. Both Walt and Roy Disney married during this period, Walt to Lillian Bounds, a studio inker. Original artwork, including the earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse, will illustrate Disney’s sensational success with his character. Other exhibit highlights include business correspondence between Walt and Roy, the move to the new Hyperion Studios, where Disney created four of its great animation features, and Walt’s meeting with and marriage to Lillian Bounds. Gallery 3 - New Horizons: The Emergence of the Walt Disney Studio (1928 to 1940)
The success of Mickey Mouse let Walt Disney expand the newly renamed Walt Disney Studios and improve the quality of Studio animations, so he embarked on a series of ambitious projects, including the “Silly Symphonies,” one-reel shorts that let him experiment with images, music, and story lines. In the following years, the Studio created the first Technicolor cartoons, introduced a multiplane camera to create the illusion of depth in animated films, and developed distinctive styles of movement and personality in their characters. Also in this period, Walt and Lillian’s family grew to include daughters Diane and Sharon. The continuing success of Walt’s cartoons led to a revolution in the art and technology of animation. Vintage artifacts, animation art, character merchandise, and family photos chronicle the creative explosion of the 1930s, Walt’s sudden world fame, and Diane and Sharon.Gallery 4 – The Move to Features: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Having redefined the art of animation, Walt dares to produce a feature-length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. During the four years that it was in development, Disney and his brother Roy secured six-figure loans – each loan enough to finance an entire movie – time after time, and skeptics called the film “Disney’s Folly.” Disney brought in an art instructor to work with his team and insisted that the animators study live models and animals. The studio created a Character Model Department, which constructed small sculptures of characters which let animators study characters in the round. Snow White premiered on December 21, 1937, and Disney won a unique Academy Award™ for the innovative movie: a standard-sized Oscar™ and seven miniatures. Original art from Snow White, three-dimensional model figures, magazines of the period, audio clips, and a wide array of related 1930s merchandise will help recreate the story of Disney’s pioneering effort to produce Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Gallery 5 — New Success and Greater Ambitions
The worldwide success of Snow White let Disney Studios create new studio buildings in Burbank, CA, and produce even more ambitious features, such as Bambi, Pinocchio and Fantasia. The last film featured classical music and an orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Although well regarded by critics, none of the films was immediately financially successful, in part because overseas revenues were affected by World War II. Highlights of the gallery will include one of the studio’s original multiplane camera cranes, an animator’s desk and rare production art. Gallery 6: The Late ‘30s to Mid ‘40s
This difficult period in Walt’s life included the deaths of his parents, a studio strike that threatened the company’s viability, and a period when the U.S. military used part of the studio as a base. The company released Dumbo and produced training films for the military, public service shorts, and morale- boosting films, and Walt embarked on a goodwill tour of South America to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Latin American countries. He later produced two Latin American-themed animated movies based on the trip. Photos and union fliers from the 1941 Disney animators’ strike as well as samples of Disney films in support of the war effort will be among the gallery highlights. Also on view will be original art from Dumbo and insignias that the Studios created for numerous regiments and squadrons. Gallery 7 Post-War Rebuilding: Mid-‘40s to the early 1950s
With the end of the war, Walt and Roy found inventive new outlets for animation and ventured into live-action production. They developed new package films for theaters that combined shorts and feature-length animated films, as well as movies that combined live action and animation. In addition, the Studio produced the enormously successful Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Lady and the Tramp, the studio’s first wide-screen animated feature. Disney also produced his first live-action features, including Treasure Island and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Concept and animation art from Disney’s films of the period will be prominently featured in this gallery, as well as artifacts from live-action movies, including an underwater camera used in the filming of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and works from Walt’s extensive personal collection of miniatures. Gallery 8 - Walt and the Natural World
Walt—who had a love of nature since his youth in Marceline—also ventured into live-action documentaries during the ‘40s and early ‘50s. The first of these was a nature documentary, Seal Island, a 27-minute account of the seasonal habits of seals that won the 1949 Academy Award™ for best two-reel documentary. Later documentaries in the series, “TrueLife Adventures” continued to focus on nature, while “People and Places” highlighted peoples and destinations around the world. Exhibits in the gallery include some of the specialized equipment used in the production of the “True-Life Adventures” series. Gallery 9 The 1950s and 1960s: The Big Screen and Beyond
This prolific period of Walt’s life started with the installation of a scale model railroad on the grounds of his new home, an event that spurred him to develop Disneyland.
Walt also created pioneering weekly television shows, and the studio continued creating both animated and live-action films, including the Academy Award™-winning Mary Poppins.
Walt was also involved in developing new technologies for installations for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair. In the 1950s he announced his ideas for EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.
In a 15 year period, Walt created the templates for family television entertainment and outdoor family recreation while also infusing the promise of space exploration and urban planning with a sense of wonder and awe. From the Lilly Belle, the scale-model locomotive that Walt helped build and install on a half-mile track around his home, to the visionary plans for EPCOT, the exhibits in this gallery present a vivid look at the landscape of Walt’s imagination and achievements during the last 15 years of his life.
Gallery 10 - Remembering Walt Disney
Walt Disney died on December 15, 1966. Reactions from around the world, in newspaper articles, editorial comment, and letters and telegrams present an appreciation of the joy, hope, and inspiration Walt provided to millions of people around the world.
And that's just a small taste of what's in store for us at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco! See the museum for yourself the next time you are in the San Francisco area.More information about the Walt Disney Family Museum, including photos and descriptions, are available on MiceChat HERE: http://micechat.com/forums/walt-disney-family-museum/120140-new-museum-present-life-achievements-walt-disney-opening-october-2009-a.html