“Imagine hanging a picture in your own living room,” starts Becky Cline, director, Walt Disney Archives. For the past several months, Becky and her team at the Walt Disney Archives have been carefully curating the largest Disney Archives exhibit to date—D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives, which opens to the public on July 6 at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. “If you think about it, there’s a fair amount of work that goes into hanging a single picture—framing, measuring, and whatnot. Multiply that by how many pictures and posters we have to hang in the new exhibit, and that will give you a little bit of an idea of just how busy we’ve been.”
And boy have they been busy! The Reagan Library first approached the Walt Disney Archives about curating an exclusive, Disney-themed exhibit late last fall, and since then, Becky and the Archives team have been hard at work designing and developing a never-before-seen collection of crown jewels from The Walt Disney Company’s long and storied history. From the original animation script for Steamboat Willie (1928)—typed by Walt himself—and the storybook props for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, to a re-creation of Walt’s formal office, immersive exhibits showcasing Alice in Wonderland, the Magical Kingdoms of Disney theme parks, Marvel, and more, the upcoming exhibit—complete with more than 500 Disney archival treasures—is sure to dazzle the young and young of heart when it first welcomes guests in just a few weeks.
IT’S OFF TO WORK WE GO
After officially partnering with the Reagan Library for this one-of-a-kind, multi-month exhibition, the Archives team spent considerable time determining the story they wanted the exhibition to tell. “We had to decide if we were going to do something generally Disney, specifically about Walt Disney, specifically about a particular film, etc.” Becky explains. “In this case, they wanted an exhibit that showcases all of the treasures of the Walt Disney Archives from the beginning to the present. So this exhibit pays homage to the entire history of the Company.”
The team chose to split the exhibit in two—the first main section of the exhibition will showcase objects, memorabilia, and more from Walt lifetime, while a second main section will display artifacts from after Walt’s lifetime through the present day at The Walt Disney Company. Assets were then carefully selected to help tell the tale of Walt Disney and the company that bears his name. “We’re showing some of the crown jewels that people have seen before, but we also selected hundreds of items that have not been viewed before for our collection,” Becky says of the chosen pieces. “It is going to be pretty spectacular.”
After designing the space—think color scheme and layout—the Archives team began creating the exhibit’s supporting pieces, such as the item descriptions, display cabinets, audio tour, a catalogue, and more. “Every item had to be photographed,” Becky adds. “And some objects needed to be fixed or touched up. It took many, many months.”
ON THE MOVE
Then came moving day—or rather, moving days. “We needed big trucks,” Becky says, laughing. “UPS is our official sponsor and shipper, and they brought us trucks and folks to help us load, unload, and drive the trucks up to the Library. In some cases, we had to put things in with a forklift, and in many cases we just got a group of people who would jump in the back of the truck and push things out.”
“When Disney needed to move irreplaceable artifacts for the Reagan Library, they called UPS,” Al Pilgrim, director, Enterprise Account Sales, UPS Worldwide Services, says. ”We were excited to say ‘yes,’ and are proud to be ‘moving the magic.’ Seeing the ship from Pirates of the Caribbean traveling on the back of a UPS Freight tractor-trailer was a magic moment for me.”
It took the entire Archives staff—plus a few volunteers, Reagan Library staff, and UPS employees—nearly four days to load and unload everything. In fact, packing up Walt’s office alone required more than 25 boxes!
When D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Reagan Library officially opens its doors to the general public on July 6, guests will be treated to a treasure trove of more than 500 crown jewels, including original artifacts, props, costumes, models and the artwork of artists, architects, animators, and designers who have, for nearly nine decades, contributed to Disney’s timeless legacy.
And with just a few short weeks until the grand opening, Becky and the Archives team are keeping busy with all of the special—and magical—finishing touches. “We’re just working away!” Becky says. “We’re looking at the calendar very closely. We’re all very excited.”
We can’t wait!
Tickets for D23 Presents Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives will go on sale June 26 at 8 a.m. PDT at www.Reaganlibrary.com/treasures.