Since early July, some rare bits of the Disney empire have been on view a couple of hours’ drive north of the Magic Kingdom. D23, the official Disney fan club, is presenting the exhibit “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives” at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, where over half of the items on display are being shown in public for the first time.
“Treasures” is the largest exhibit the Archives has ever curated, and its location here recognizes the long-term professional relationship and personal friendship between Disney and Ronald Reagan, which dated back to the former President’s pre-political career in Hollywood. The range of the collection should appeal to pop culture fans of all ages, while the rarity of some of the items is sure to attract Disney aficionados and collectors.
“Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives” is housed on two levels in the Reagan Library’s temporary-exhibit space. The lower level features a mix of props, costumes, and theme-park relics. The emphasis is on more recent productions, including the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise and the Disney/Marvel Studios collaborations – a life-size Iron Man suit and large-scale pirate ships are highlights – but there are also fixtures from Disneyland, including passenger cars from Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Peter Pan’s Flight.
The upper level looks at Walt Disney’s early life and presents the studio’s history chronologically, beginning with some of its very first shorts and continuing into its classic early animation, the movement into live-action features – beginning in the late 1950s and peaking with Mary Poppins in 1964 – and on through recent live and animated projects, including the Pixar films. Highlights here include re-creations of Walt Disney’s formal office and an animator’s work space, a pre-construction schematic drawing of Disneyland, Mary Poppins’ iconic costume, and a wide variety of other costumes, drawings, props, and personal artifacts. Detailed descriptions and context for items in the exhibit are included in its official catalog and on D23’s website.
The “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives” collection is appearing exclusively at the Reagan Library and Museum, and is included in the price of all visitor tickets through April 30, 2013. The temporary-exhibit galleries are located at the end of the museum tour through the life and accomplishments of Ronald Reagan. The tour features several permanent exhibits, including a scale re-creation of Reagan’s Oval Office, the retired Boeing 707 that served as Air Force One during his presidency, a section of the Berlin Wall, and the Memorial site.
Florinda Pendley Vasquez blogs about books and other things at The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness.
Photos by Florinda Pendley Vasquez