Wednesday, September 30, 2009
It's Opening day for the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco! The first museum ever to be dedicated to Walt Disney is opening today and it's a major event. Located on the Presidio’s Main Post, three existing buildings were renovated for the Walt Disney Family Museum. The principal building, at 104 Montgomery Street, faces the Parade Ground and the total area of the three buildings is 77,000 square feet.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is a project of the Walt Disney Family Foundation, a private, nonprofit entity and is dedicated to telling the story of the “man behind the myth,” illustrating how his creativity and vision has shaped childhood in America and his impact on urban planning and the technical development of the film industry. In addition to the museum, the 77,000 square-feet facility will also house the Walt Disney Family Foundation’s offices and archive of photos, papers and other artifacts, which will be available for scholarly study.
The ten galleries of the Museum exhibits tell Disney’s story in his own words and those of his family, friends, and co-workers. Using a mix of historic materials and artifacts, Disney’s achievements will come to life through innovative displays that include listening stations, interactive media, and more than 200 video monitors. Much of the material is being generously lent by the Walt Disney Company and private collectors. Here is a description of each gallery.
Gallery 1: Beginnings: Walt Disney’s Early Years (1901-1923)
Walt Disney was born in Chicago in 1901. In 1906, his family moved to a Missouri farm, where he had an idyllic early childhood and first learned to draw. The farm failed, and in 1911 his family moved to Kansas City, where he rose at 3:30 am to deliver newspapers on his father’s paper route and fell in love with vaudeville and movies. In 1917, the family moved to Chicago, where Walt created cartoons for his high school yearbook, took classes at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, and tried to enlist in the U.S. Army. Rejected for being underage, he joined the American Ambulance Corps and arrived in France as World War I ended. When Disney returned to the United
States, he settled in Kansas City and got a job at a commercial art studio. In 1920, while working at an ad company, Walt discovered the fantastical world of animation and immersed himself in the young medium. While keeping his day job, he began making Laugh-O-gram ad reels and animation shorts with artist Ub Iwerks. Laugh-O-grams Films soon went bankrupt, and Walt, at age 21 moved to California. Walt’s early drawings and mementoes from his childhood, as well as cameras similar to those he used in Kansas City, are highlighted in the Museum’s first gallery.
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, 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.
Always in Gallery 2 visitors can see 348 sketches of Steamboat Willie (left of the picture above), 16 seconds of the movie. Ub Iwerks was drawing per day as many as 696 sketches! Also in this room an incredible collection of the early Mickey Mouse merchandise!
Galleries 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.
In these Galleries, visitors can see 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 help to 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 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 moraleboosting 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 flyers from the 1941 Disney animators’ strike as well as samples of Disney films in support of the war effort is 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 are 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.
From the window that you can see on the right of the picture above, visitors have a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge!
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.
The rendering below shows Gallery 9. You can see the Lilly Belle on the left...
...and also on the top of this picture of the Gallery 9. Also in this gallery, a unique model of Disneyland. It is the "Disneyland of Walt's Imagination", which means that the model don't show Disneyland as it is today but as Walt envisioned it, and some of the attractions on the model are now extinct attractions. The museum commissioned this beautiful 12 foot diameter model to Kerner optical.
Above the model, the Video Globe. Video and images that illuminate achievements from the last 15 years of Disney’s life are projected onto a suspended fiveand-a-half foot video globe in one of the Museum’s galleries. Highlights include the evolution of Disneyland, ABC’s “Disney Land” television series, and other landmark accomplishments. The sphere is illuminated by eight projectors to create a completely spherical image visible from all areas in the gallery.
Here is a close shot of the gorgeous "Disneyland of Walt's Imagination" model.
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.
Walt Disney was an innovator who continually adopted new technology to enhance and advance the
art of storytelling. His unshakable faith in the future led him to explore the application of new
technologies in developing animation, live action films, nature documentaries, special exhibits, and
parks and city planning. He also supported innovation in other fields, especially through his film work that championed initiatives in atomic energy and the NASA space program.
In order to honor Walt Disney’s extraordinary achievements in technology innovations, The Walt Disney Family Museum commissioned the Rockwell Group, an architecture and design firm specializing in cultural and educational design, to develop innovative and engaging Museum exhibits that tell the story of Walt Disney’s life and work while pushing the boundaries of exhibition design.
State-of-the-art Rockwell Group innovations designed specifically for the Museum include:
• The Hyperion Studio, birthplace of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A touch-screen table let visitors explore multiple facets of the Hyperion Studio culture in a non-linear way. They will be able to view video clips, still photos, interviews, and factoids. The Hyperion Studio was the birthplace of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
• Multiplane Camera: bringing illusion of depth to animation: Rockwell Group installed an interactive, miniature version of the multiplane camera, which Disney used to stunning effect in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. An original, two-story multiplane camera is on view in the Museum.
• Schultheis Notebook: the special effects behind Fantasia and more: The original special effects notebook of Disney Studios employee Herman Schultheis, which is on view at the Museum, has been scanned. The digitized version is now an interactive notebook that allows visitors, via a touch-screen table, to browse through the journal, zoom in on drawings, photographs, and documents, and play back a scene from Fantasia.
• “Steamboat Willie:” synchronizing sound to movement in animation. To illustrate some of the challenges of synchronizing sound to film, Rockwell installed a table with touchsensitive bronze instruments that let visitors try to match sounds to their cues.
In addition, other installations were developed by other consultants:
The Video Globe described above and also: Optical printer: the seamless marriage of live action and animation in Mary Poppins. The magical effects achieved in Mary Poppins are demystified by no less an authority than Bert, the chimneysweep. The display developed by Technifex incorporates a live-action video of a miniature Dick Van Dyke (who played Bert in the movie) darting around an optical printer to explain how the process works.
As you've seen the Walt Disney Family Museum looks fantastic, and if you go to San Francisco, be sure to visit the museum! More infos available on the WDFM web site or on the museum Facebook page.
General admission for the museum is $20, students and seniors is $15, children 12 and under is $12.50, and children under 6 years of age is free with an accompanying adult.
And now, what about a little preview of the Walt Disney Family Museum? Thanks to the these Youtube videos coming from different U.S TV channels you'll be able to see more - and it looks absolutely awesome!
Let's begin by the beginning, i.e the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony by Diane Disney Miller on October 1st.
You'll see much more of the museum inside in this next video with also an interview of Richard Benefield, executive director of the WDFM.
This other short video include different shots of the inside...
And this last one include many shots of the inside and an interview of Diane Disney Miller, Walt's daughter.
Thanks to leave a comment or discuss this article on D&M english forum on Mice Chat
All pictures: copyright Disney or Walt Disney Family Foundation.