Take a moment to imagine a world without Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Mary Poppins, or Donald Duck. Picture the entertainment industry without animated cartoons, multi-view movies, special effects, or color. Imagine watching TV without being able to hear what each character is saying as he or she talks. If it weren’t for the creativity and perseverance of Walt Disney, the founder of The Walt Disney Company, these characters and technical innovations would not exist today.
The life and work of Walt Disney is the subject of the exhibit Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, which opened this month at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
A Dazzling Display
Through a display of more than 300 rarely seen objects, the exhibit traces Disney’s journey from his birth in Chicago to his first animation film to his groundbreaking film inventions. By showcasing various artifacts from different Disney eras, the Museum of Science and Industry hopes to portray Disney’s history and remind visitors of their experiences with Disney’s characters, films, and theme parks.
“When they see Mary Poppins, for example, they will recall the first time they watched the movie,” Nicholas Vega, the Manager of Collections and Exhibits for the Walt Disney Archives, told TFK. “If they see the Small World doll from Disneyland, they will remember the first time they went on the ride.”
Recreating Disney’s World
One display in the exhibit contains a replica of the desk that was in Walt Disney’s office. Artists and historians reconstructed it by looking at archived pictures of his office. Another section displays original Mary Poppins movie props, including the Mary Poppins carpetbag, a Mary Poppins outfit, and Jane and Michael’s toys. Mary Poppins will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
The exhibit also includes a Lego Cinderella Castle built by a Lego master, Walt Disney’s collection of awards and trophies, and a display case full of authentic costumes from movies including Enchanted, The Great and Powerful Oz, The Mad Hatter, and 101 Dalmatians.
The Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives also has hands-on activities for kids of all ages. In the “Animation Academy,” guests are given a tutorial of how to draw a certain Disney character. The characters are rotated on a daily basis, so a visitor can learn how to draw seven different Disney characters over the course of one week. There are also question-and-answer trivia games and stations where guests can listen to Disney songs.
The Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit will be at the museum until May 4, 2014. “It’s a highly educational, but very entertaining exhibit,” Vega says. “So you’re going to learn, but you’re going to have fun learning.”