Everyone knows the iconic Walt Disney. With his 65 years on earth Walt Disney changed the face of animation. He reinvented motion picture techniques, including synchronized sound, full color three-strip Technicolor, feature length cartoons as well as technical developments which enhanced cameras for all filmmakers. Many know him as the inventor of The Mouse that became the logo for his Disney Studios and a constant sidekick when Walt hosted the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday night television. The list of full-length feature animation movies is a who’s who of childhood characters that raised a generation. His accomplishments beginning as a young ad artist at the age of 18 and continuing to his death from lung cancer at 65 years old are so vast, that it takes a museum to begin to tell his story.
The Walt Disney Family Museum located at 104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio San Francisco, CA 94129 does exactly that, it tells in detail the life of a man who has made millions of people laugh, smile and act like kids again. The Walt Disney Family Museum is not formally associated with the Walt Disney Company or Disney Entertainment, it is the inspirational brain child of Walt’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. The museum is formally owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation. The museum is a special dedication to Walter Elias Disney, the man, his story, his work, his innovations, his dreams and his visions.
Shirley Temple and Walt Disney 1939
Walt Disney drove an ambulance in France similar to this one
Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz 1963
Pathe Camera and Bell and Howell Camera
Walt at the Pathe camera ca 1923
Diane Disney Miller was the only biological child of Walt Disney. She lived a life apart from the magic that her famous father created, she was mother to 7, as well as founder with her husband Ron Miller of the Silverado Vineyards in Napa Valley, California. She was a pianist with a passion for the classics, a philanthropist who supported the arts throughout her life. Like her father, she was a visionary who dedicated the last two decades of her life to honoring the memory of her father by commemorating his life and accomplishments. Ms. Miller conceived, planned and directed the design and construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles as well as the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, CA.
Roy and Walt outside the studio on Kingswell ca 1924
RKO publicity poster 1937
Mickey Mouse Magazine
Walt and Shirley Temple at Academy Awards dinner February 23 1939
Manhattan Theater April 1944
Animator’s Desk (reproduction)
Diego Rivera (Mexico 1886-1957) Gift from Diego Rivera to Diane Disney Miller 1940
Walt Disney Productions stock certificate March 8 1940
Disney Studio Artist Character Model c.1941
The Walt Disney Family Museum is in The Presidio of San Francisco, a park and former U.S. Army military fort. It is part of The Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This historic site at the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula dates to 1776 when the Spanish established it as El Presidio Real de San Francisco translated as The Royal Fortress of Saint Francis.
Diane Disney Miller had three existing historic buildings within The Presidio expanded and retrofitted to house the Walt Disney Family Museum. The Main building of over 40,000 square feet introduces the visitor to the Museum using a map by Bay Area Illustrator, Dave Stevenson. Like many Disney films that open with a “once upon a time”, this map shows the background of Walt’s Family as the visitor embarks on a journey through the life of the man who created the Disney Journey. Storyboards were one of the pivotal gifts of Walt to the world of animation. This map at the entrance is begins the story of the Disney Family in France, it is the first panel of the Story board of The Walt Disney Family Museum.
Public Service Poster 1943
Public Service Poster 1943
Der Fuehrer’s Face poster 1942
Walt Disney miniature collection
The display and interactive media throughout the museum is well suited for both an visitor who prefers an overview as well as a visitor who wants to examine every detail. Visitors tour the treasured collection of the Disney Family at their own pace.
If by chance there is someone who doesn’t know who Walt Disney is, this museum will tell you the story of this man. If you are a Disney aficionado, this museum will show you the living mementos from the pen of Walt Disney, his words that inspired millions along with a behind the scenes look at his ideas, creations and of course the thousands of projects that came from this one mind. The museum is also a treasure chest filled with exclusive family photos of Walt at home away from work.
Stop at the Café for some of Walt’s famous Chili
And a BBQ pork sandwich
Technicolor camera DF-7
Walt’s “Valet” Box
The Walt Disney Family Museum is an autobiographical museum, as well as a history museum, it is also an art museum, a museum of ideas, a museum of inventions precisely told in multimedia fashion just as Walt would have wanted it. The Museum offers special exhibitions that complement the 10 permanent Galleries, each depicting a distinct period in the life of Mr. Disney.
The Galleries Include:
Gallery 1 - Early Beginnings – 1901-1923
Gallery 2 - The Move to Hollywood- 1923-1928
Gallery 3 - Exploring New Horizons – 1928-1940
Gallery 4 - The Transition into Features – 1936-1938
Gallery 5 - New Success and Great Ambitions 1939-1940
Gallery 6- Patriotic Contributions – 1941-1945
Gallery 7 - Postwar Rebuilding – 1946-1950
Gallery 8 - Walt and The Natural World -1948-1960
Gallery 9 - Disneyland and Beyond – 1950-1965
Gallery 10 – Remembering Walt Disney – 1966
Don Wright The Miami News
William B. Robinson Indianapolis News
Karl Hubenthal Los Angeles Herald Examiner
Thank you Walt Disney!
The Walt Disney Family Museum welcomes visitors daily except Tuesdays from 10:00 AM -6:00 PM. Last admission at 4:45 PM.
Story by Daniel Dachille and Laine Page
Some photos courtesy The Walt Disney Company