Museum: THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS AND WORLD WAR II (The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco)

Post image for Museum: THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS AND WORLD WAR II (The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco)

by Tony Frankel on March 15, 2021

in Art and Museums,Theater-San Francisco / Bay Area

The Walt Disney Family Museum opens its new special exhibition, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, on Thursday, March 18 for museum members and to the general public the following day, Friday, March 19, 2021.

Disney Studio Artist, historically accurate color rendition by Kent Ramsey;
2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Fresno, CA, Dumbo insignia, 1942. Courtesy of Kent Ramsey; (c) Disney

The museum’s updated operating hours will be Thursday through Sunday from 10am to 5pm, with last gallery entry at 4pm. The Museum Store will also open to members only on March 18 and to the public from March 19 (timed ticketing required). The Main Museum at 104 Montgomery Street, which showcases the story of the life of Walt Disney, will remain temporarily closed with an anticipated opening in April 2021. Media announcement and a Main Museum reopening date will be forthcoming.

Disney Studio Artist; Remember Pearl Harbor poster, 1942.
Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives; (c) Disney

When Disney received word that the Disney studio lot in Burbank had been requisitioned as an Army anti-aircraft base after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he and his staff pledged to support the war effort without hesitation — and without profit.

Disney Studio Artist; Story sketch, The Vanishing Private (1942).
Courtesy of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library; (c) Disney

This original exhibition illustrates how the The Walt Disney Studios devoted over 90% of its wartime output to producing training, propaganda, entertainment, and public-service films, publicity and print campaigns, and over 1,200 insignia, while also deploying a group of talented artists, including Walt Disney himself, to Latin America on a Goodwill Tour.

Disney Studio Artist; Visual development, Victory Through Air Power (1943).
“Thousands of Eyes in the Dark. Keep Your Eyes Open. Remember Pearl Harbor.”
Mickey is wearing an AWS armband. Courtesy of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library

During this unique period in animation history, the Studios functioned as a morale-builder for both the civilian public and deployed Allied troops. Walt knew that cartoons would be an ideal medium for communicating with the American people — in an uncomplicated and amusing manner — about war-related issues and anxieties.

Hank Porter (United States, 1900 - 1951); Masquer's Servicemen's Morale Corps program card,
1943-44. Courtesy of Kent Ramsey; (c) Disney

In addition to the short films and military insignia produced, Disney characters appeared in a variety of home-front initiatives, from advertisements, magazines, and stamp books, to government posters promoting tax payment, food recycling, rationing, war bond sales, and farm production. The exhibition includes 550 examples of these rare historical objects and film clips.

Disney Studio Artist; Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) Fifinella insignia
for the 318th Women's Flying Training Detachment,
later adopted by the 319th AAFFTD, 1943. Courtesy of the Walt Disney Archives; (c) Disney

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II will be on display in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall through Spring 2021. A new insignia designed exclusively for this exhibition by Mike Gabriel features Donald Duck dressed as a pilot holding onto the wings of a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat while soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge. This boat was commonly seen in the San Francisco Bay during World War II.

Hank Porter (United States, 1900 - 1951); Masquer's Servicemen's Morale Corps program card,
1943-44. Courtesy of Kent Ramsey; (c) Disney.

WDFM offers free admission to the museum and this exhibition year-round for active and retired military personnel and their spouses and dependents with valid ID.

Donald Duck exhibition insignia for The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, 2019.
Courtesy of Mike Gabriel; (c) Disney.

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