Walt Disney Family Museum Salutes WW2

A 1942 cartoon drawing of Donald Duck at the Walt DIsney Family Museum. Caroline Quinn photo.
A 1942 cartoon drawing of Donald Duck at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Caroline Quinn photo.

 The New World War II Exhibition opening in May 2020

By Matt Martella

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, California will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II with a brand new and extensive exhibition on US involvement in the Second World War.

The exhibition is formally presented as The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, and it is described as “a remembrance of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort.”

Walt Disney Family Museum. Jim Heaphy photo.
Walt Disney Family Museum. Jim Heaphy photo.

The exhibition will be on display in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall from May 13th, 2020 to January 11th, 2021.

The Museum will provide free admission to both the museum and the World War II exhibition for active and retired military personnel, their spouses, and dependents with valid ID.

The Walt Disney Studios and World War II is the 27th original exhibition organized by the museum since 2012. The exhibit is organized and presented by World War II historian Kent Ramsey.

The museum also participates in the Blue Star Museums program, meaning all persons with a military ID (active, retired, spouse, dependent) and up to five of their family members are granted free general admission to the museum between Armed Forces Day (Saturday, May 16, 2020) and Labor Day (Monday, September 7, 2020).

The Walt Disney Family Museum’s exhibition offers a different take on a World War II museum exhibition. Whereas a typical exhibition would focus on the “war” aspect of the Second World War, this exhibition showcases the art and media that Disney produced to help the war effort back home.

Disney’s contributions with the US Military 

2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Fresno, California. Dumbo insignia. Caroline Quinn photo.
2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, Fresno, California. Dumbo insignia. Caroline Quinn photo.

The Walt Disney Museum in San Francisco and Walt Disney himself both have a deep and meaningful history with the American military efforts during World War II and throughout the mid and late 1900s. The Disney studio lot in Burbank was turned into an anti-aircraft base after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Walt Disney was a willing and dedicated contributor to Ally forces during World War II, producing and providing

plenty of propaganda, entertainment, and public service films for the US army. The World War II exhibition includes plenty of rarely seen artwork, film clips, literature, photos, and other historical objects for this era of animation history.

Seeing Donald Duck and Dumbo in military outfits is an odd sight, but it opens history-lovers to a side of World War II not normally discussed or read about.

Before it was turned into a national park, the Presidio was used as an active US military base from 1846 to 1994. The main building of the Walt Disney Family Museum was constructed in 1897 and was used as one of five brick Army barracks on the Main Parade Ground.

Other things to do at the Walt Disney Family Museum

This museum is dedicated to the storied and unique life of Walt Disney, the man who pioneered massive changes to the film, art, and animation industries and whose influences are still found in all entertainment platforms throughout the entire world.

walt disney family museum
Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Walt Disney Family Museum features plenty of virtual and physical displays alike that carry on the legacy of Walt Disney, including a large collection of historical materials and artifacts. The museum also offers interactive galleries of early drawings and animations, movies, music, listening stations, and an amazing model of Disneyland.

Basically, even if you have just a mild interest in all things “Disney,” the Walt Disney Museum in Presidio should have something to make a trip worth your time.

The 40,000 square-foot facility was opened in October of 2009 and has featured a wide variety of exhibits that honor both Walt Disney and many other iconic artists and art forms from around the world.

Another upcoming exhibition doesn’t celebrate the artwork of household names, but the artwork of children from two Bay Area hospitals currently undergoing cancer treatment. The exhibition is called Healing in Color and it is the fifth community outreach exhibition hosted by the Walt Disney Family Museum.

The Museum is partnered with the Kids & Art Foundation. The exhibition features art from young artists who have been “encouraged to explore this intersection of fantasy and reality.” Their artwork will “express a common dream for a bright future using bold colors and textures.”

The Healing in Color gallery will be open from March 25 through August 24, 2020, and admission is completely free for all visitors.

The Walt Disney Family Museum is constantly changing its exhibitions to attract all people with different interests in art and history. The World War II exhibition has to be one of the Museum’s best because of Disney’s personal attachment to the subject matter.

Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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