SF Bay Arts recently spent the good part of a day at The Walt Disney Family Museum here in the city and we could have spent even more time. It is located in a brick building, (a lot like the surrounding historical ones) over by Crissy Fields and the Presidio areas. Allow yourself a fair amount of time, this is an interesting and detailed look at the all things Disney. Not recommended for little kids – this is a more intelligent, adult venue. The museum starts with a lot of detail about Disney and his personal life, his family and beginnings – some very interesting. Then it moves on to his early career and branches out into the formation of the company Disney, the artistic evolution of Disney characters, detailed info on early animation techniques, the films and finally Disneyland and Disneyworld. There are tons of historical photos, original character sketches, sculptures, vintage Disney toy collections, original paintings for the movies and early, short animated movies as well as clips from later movies. Also there are cameras, paints and parts of sets from the Disney studios and artists.
Was very happy to see a lot of Mary Blair‘s works (above), she was an incredible artist whose work for Disney is just lately being acknowledged. Of course the museum’s perspective doesn’t mention how sexist the studios were or the anti-union stance or the fact that many artist’s works were credited to Walt early on… nonetheless, this is a fascinating place to visit.
UB Iwerks, another famous animator (the creator of Mickey Mouse, above) also has a fair amount of original sketches here, character studies, action progressions and photos. I wonder if his name relates to his doing all the work while others sat around…?
One of the most stunning exhibits is the Multiplane Camera – the device that enabled the incredible animation in earlier Disney films, also a Disney invention. It was great to see how the artworks were filmed to merge in a 3D effect. Check out this link to a video describing the camera’s process. This was the highlight of the museum for me.
There is a wonderful huge scale model of the original Disneyland – as you become closer to the end of the exhibit, just one of the many models and sculptures the art was based on. Of course there is an “E” ticket on display for those who remember the coveted item. Many of the displays had earphones to listen to while taking in the visuals, they are definitely worth using. A big problem throughout the museum was the competition between sound from bordering displays and the volume of the headphones… often to many dialogs going on at once in one locale. However, the amount of beautiful artworks, (especially from Fantasia) here are just astounding and the factual histories delight, not to mention the best view of the Golden Gate outside the windows!