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The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

walt disney family museum

On the grounds of the famed Presidio in San Francisco, in a building that used to be Army barracks, sits the Walt Disney Family Museum.  Years after Walt Disney died, his daughter and grandson co-founded this endeavor.  I was lucky enough to spend half a day there during my recent trip to San Francisco.  It’s 40,000 square feet of memorabilia, highlighting the successes, as well as the disappointments in the life of the Mr Disney.  It’s full of interactive galleries that feature early drawings, animation, movies and music.  We were lucky enough to have a guided tour.  Even with the guide, there was so much that time just wouldn’t allow us to see.

My father has one of the most well-known names around the world, but as the Disney ‘brand’ has grown, the man has become lost.  We are committed to telling the story of Walt Disney’s life, in his own words, and in the words of others who knew him well and worked with him. My father was very open, and in the many conversations and interviews that you will hear in the galleries, you learn the story of his life. It is a wonderful story, and Dad himself loved to tell it. Thanks to the amazing work of many dedicated people, we are fortunate to be able to tell it here using the tools he worked with—art, music, film, and technology—to present an honest yet affectionate portrait of this amazing artist and man.–Diane Disney Miller, Museum co-founder

The stories of Disney’s life, creativity, family, and the processes and innovations he brought to his art are told through a series of ten galleries. Highlights of the Museum include:

  • Drawings Disney made in his youth
  • Drawings and cartoons from Laugh-O-Gram Films, Disney’s first company
  • The earliest known drawings of Mickey Mouse
  • Storyboards, a Disney innovation that map out timeless film classics
  • The technically innovative multiplane camera that brought vibrancy and depth to his revolutionary feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • The unique Snow White Academy Award®, which includes a full-size Oscar® and seven miniature castings
  • The narrow-gauge Lilly Belle train Disney built for his Hollywood home, which recalled his youth and helped spur his vision for Disneyland
  • A 12-foot diameter model of the Disneyland of Walt’s imagination

The most touching things that I saw during the tour were the true family movies, showing Walt and his wife Lilly,  surrounded by grandchildren.  They looked like such an ordinary family.  Perhaps, they were.  Thanks so much to his family for sharing such personal memories with the world.

The Walt Disney Family Museum is open 6 days a week, Wednesday-Monday, closed on Tuesday.  Click here for more information on visiting.

Disclosure:  My visit to the Walt Disney Family Museum was part of a press junket sponsored by Disney/Pixar.  All opinions are my very own.

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