Sep 24, 2009

A Disney Dream realized: The Walt Disney Family Museum is about to open

Interior of one of the galleries of the Museum. Photographed by and used with the permission of David Lytle.

Last year out of the blue I received an email asking about one of the photographs I've featured on my blog. This happens fairly often, but this time the source knocked me for a loop: it was the people who were amassing exhibits for the long-awaited Walt Disney Museum underway up in San Francisco, in the stunningly beautiful Presidio. Would I be amenable to helping? Is Fred Moore my favorite good girl artist? Is the Blackwing a pencil?

The circa 1890 barracks at San Francisco's Presidio. They had to be very carefully modified and worked around by the Disney Museum's architect to meet the requirements of this historic site

Of course I was happy to be able to help out in any way however small. When dropping my original off I was privileged to be shown an elaborate virtual walkthrough, examples of exhibits, and an overall idea of what the museum would be and look like. I found it utterly exhilarating. Truly worthy of Disney's oft-expressed vision of educating coupled with appeal and fun, it's clearly been based on his own approaches to those goals.

The cover to a Museum book that will be available at its bookstore in October. In addition to the store, there's also a theater, a cafe and an education center as part of the campus.

I won't see it myself until tomorrow at a preview, but if it's anything like the plans it's going to be a standard for this sort of place. Walt Disney's life and career contained experiences so simultaneously relatable and visionary, combining spectacular success with equally numbing failures (from which he managed to recover despite sometimes terrible odds--a point the Museum intends to make clear as part of its presentation) that he easily deserves a permanent educational resource of this kind. It's one his family, in particular his daughter Diane Disney Miller, have worked tirelessly to make happen. It's a shame that it's not located in Los Angeles, but having lived in that city for most of my life I can't say I'm amazed that the project couldn't be realized here. And it does make an excellent excuse to make more trips to the Bay Area if anyone needed one.

Opening day is almost here: October 1st. The Museum has been sending me various materials from its holdings and (I'd imagine) displays, a few of which are illustrated here.

Walt and Diane in Los Feliz in the 30s, a stone's throw from the Hyperion studio

Regardless of Walt's telegram, you just know Roy worried.

Yet another rare piece of visual development from a woman Walt gave a unique opportunity to: Mary Blair

Funny--it doesn't say "Park" anywhere on this billboard

It wasn't all work and no play: Walt learned to ride as my own father did-on a midwestern farm. Years later he used this saddle where I've ridden today: the Santa Ynez Valley. Don't know why the color swatches are there.

I wish I knew who drew this board for "Mary Poppins" so I could attribute it-anyone? Note the aspect ratio

After Friday I'll post my impressions; in the meantime, I'd think that regular readers of this blog--assuming you're still around--will have to start planning that little jaunt to San Francisco now.

The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street
The Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94129

T 415 345 6800