The Walt Disney Studios’ extraordinary involvement in the United States World War II effort to be commemorated in a new special exhibition
San Francisco, November 24, 2020—The Walt Disney Family Museum presents The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, a retrospective of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. Curated by World War II historian Kent Ramsey in partnership with The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, this immersive exhibition will be on view to members on Thursday, December 3 and to the general public from Friday, December 4, 2020.
When Walt Disney received word that the Disney studio lot in Burbank had been requisitioned as an Army anti-aircraft base after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he and his staff pledged to support the war effort without hesitation, and without profit. This original exhibition illustrates how the The Walt Disney Studios devoted over 90% of its wartime output to producing training, propaganda, entertainment, and public-service films, publicity and print campaigns, and over 1,200 insignia, while also deploying a group of talented artists, including Walt himself, to Latin America on a Goodwill Tour.
“The museum is humbled and honored to mount the first major exhibition to explore in depth The Walt Disney Studios’ involvement in the Second World War effort,” says Kirsten Komoroske, Executive Director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. “This rarely-shared period in the Studios’ history offers insight into the creativity, innovation, and positivity that Walt and his team brought to the military leaders, troops, and civilians at home and abroad.”
During this unique era of animation history, The Walt Disney Studios functioned as a tremendous morale-builder for both the civilian public and deployed Allied troops. Walt knew that cartoons would be an ideal medium for communicating with the American people—in an amusing, uncomplicated manner—about war-related issues and anxieties. In addition to the short films and military insignia being produced, Disney characters appeared in a variety of homefront initiatives, from advertisements, magazines, and stamp books, to government posters promoting tax payment, food recycling, rationing, war bond sales, and farm production. This exhibition includes 550 examples of these rare, historical objects and film clips.
“I have a special interest in this exhibition because Disney’s insignia design team created two clever insignias for my uncle’s photo reconnaissance group. Unfortunately, my uncle was shot down and killed one month before the war ended in Europe, and for me, this exhibition serves as salute to his supreme sacrifice,” explains Ramsey. “Both The Walt Disney Family Museum and The Walt Disney Company have been a delight to work with in creating this exhibition.”
As the anchor attraction in the Presidio of San Francisco, The Walt Disney Family Museum is an ideal location for The Walt Disney Studios and World War II. The Presidio served as an active U.S. Army base from 1846 until 1994, when it was decommissioned and designated a National Park. Constructed in 1897, the main museum building is one of five prominent brick Army barracks on the Main Parade Ground. The museum also occupies a second brick building, built in 1908, which served as a combination gymnasium and post exchange, and now houses the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall.
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II will be on display in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall through Spring 2021. A new insignia designed exclusively for this exhibition by Mike Gabriel features Donald Duck dressed as a pilot holding onto the wings of a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat while soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge. This boat was commonly seen in the San Francisco Bay during World War II.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is honored to provide free admission to the museum and this exhibition year-round for active and retired military personnel, and their spouses and dependents with valid ID.
ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
The Walt Disney Family Museum presents the fascinating story and achievements of Walt Disney, the man who raised animation to an artform, transformed the film industry, tirelessly pursued innovation, and created a global, yet distinctively American legacy. Opened in October 2009, the 40,000-square-foot facility features innovative technology alongside a vast collection of historic materials and artifacts that bring Disney’s achievements to life. There is a myriad of interactive galleries, which present early drawings and animation, movies, music, listening stations, a spectacular model of Disneyland, and much more. The museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in the scenic Presidio of San Francisco.
The Walt Disney Family Museum has created many world-class exhibitions, such as Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination; MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: The World of Mary Blair; Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong; and Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World, several of which have traveled to other museums around the world. The most recent, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, is the 27th original exhibition organized by the museum since 2012, and will be on view to members on Thursday, December 3 and the general public from Friday, December 4, 2020 in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall.
The Walt Disney Family Museum reopened its doors on Thursday, November 5, 2020.
The museum and special exhibition will remain open to the public as long as permitted to do so by state and local guidance. Please visit waltdisney.org before your visit to ensure the museum and exhibition are open.
Currently open Thursday through Sunday: 10am to 5:30pm, last entry at 4:15pm. Closed Mondays through Wednesdays through the remainder of 2020, and on the following public holidays: January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.
The Presidio of San Francisco, 104 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94129
General admission ticket: $25 adults; $20 seniors & students; $15 youth (ages 6 to 17)
Special exhibition ticket: $15 adults; $12 seniors & students; $5 youth
Museum admission is free for members, children under 5, and active and retired military personnel, as well as their spouses/dependents with valid ID.
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