San Francisco definitely has a reputation, whether it’s for the year round fog, it’s astounding depth of museum options, or the global cuisine that you can find throughout the city. This metropolitan center with its gleaming skyscrapers and famous bridges has a hidden gem though that you may have missed. Right before the Golden Gate Bridge sits the Presidio, and an unlikely inhabitant, The Walt Disney Family Museum. Located in a historical building, the museum highlights the work of Walt Disney and his legacy. As Disney fans ourselves, we were so excited to receive an invitation to a special showing of their new exhibition, Awaking Beauty: the art of Eyvind Earle.
On Eyvind Earle
Our day at the museum began with an exclusive curator talk with Ioan Szasz, CEO of Eyvind Earle Publishing, and Michael Labrie, Director of Collections and Exhibitions for the Walt Disney Family Foundation and museum. They shared stories of working with Eyvind and how even at the age of 11 he was pushed to be an artist when his father gave him a challenge: read 50 pages of a book or paint a picture every day. They spoke about Earle’s travels, how he biked from Hollywood to New York in 1937, selling his artwork along the way. In 1951 he joined Disney and worked there for ten years, working his way up to become a color stylist, before leaving to start his own animation company. This introduction by Ioan Szasz added depth to Eyvinds character before we were shown his work in the dedicated gallery.
The Magic Of Eyvind Earle
Best known for his work with Disney on projects like Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp, Earle was encouraged to be artistic from a very young age. This special exhibition offers a comprehensive look at Earle’s work independently and with Disney.
(Views from second-floor gallery, The Walt Disney Family Museum)
The exhibition is housed in a separate building from the main area. Walking in, you’re greeted with a two-story gallery, the first being independent work and the second being Disney work. Adorned with dark wood, the design of the gallery does right by the art. A highlight of the first floor are the paintings of grand landscapes in deep hues that Earle is famous for. This retrospective gallery also includes his unique scratchboards, companion poetry, and even his lesser known commercial illustrations. From the first floor, you learn about Eyvind Earle as a man and as an artist through his work.
(Sleeping Beauty concept painting, 1959, courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum)
Back out to the lobby and up a set of stairs is the second floor of the exhibit, focusing on his work with Disney. This floor showcases concept art from films like Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, and Peter Pan. You can see the original art from the enchanting Disney castles, and every sharp line on Maleficent’s face. If you’re a Disney fan, this exhibition will offer an experience, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
(Tribute to Disney, courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum)
In addition to the Earle exhibition, The Walt Disney Family Museum also has a permanent exhibition on the life of Walt Disney. This immersive multimedia exhibit walks you through Disney’s life, career, and legacy with texts, sounds, and images that paint a captivating picture. This exhibit is divided into ten galleries, each spotlighting a facet of his life. These galleries are:
-Beginnings: Walt Disney’s Early Years (1901-1923)
-New Horizons: The Emergence of the Walt Disney Studio (1928 to 1940)
-The Move to Features: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
-New Success and Greater Ambitions
-The Late ‘30s to Mid ‘40s
-Post-War Rebuilding: Mid-‘40s to the early 1950s
-Walt and the Natural World
-The 1950s and 1960s: The Big Screen and Beyond
-Remembering Walt Disney
Some of the highlights that you will find in these exhibits include:
-Original drawings by Disney
-Earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse
-the innovative multiplane camera that brought vibrancy and depth to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
-Disney’s 26 individual Academy Awards
-2-story gallery that features the narrow-gauge Lilly Belle train Disney built for his Hollywood home, a 14-foot diameter model of the Disneyland of Walt’s imagination and dozens of video screens that showcase his television programs from the 1950s and beyond
(Walt Disneyland concept, courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum)
The Walt Disney Family Museum should not be missed on your next trip to San Francisco. As a Disney fan, the exhibits and art were engaging, breathtaking, and completely unlike anything we have ever seen before.
Awaking Beauty: The Art of Eyvind Earle in on display in the museum through January 2018
The Walt Disney Family Museum is located at 104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129 and is open 10am–6pm every day except Tuesdays, January 1, Thanksgiving Day, and December 25.