The Walt Disney Family Museum with Jeff Kurtti

by MouseStation Crew, staff writer

MouseStation 276 - The Walt Disney Family Museum

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Show run time 0:33:59

In today's show, Steven Ng talks with Jeff Kurtti, creative consultant for the Walt Disney Family Museum.

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Feature: The Walt Disney Family Museum with Jeff Kurtti

In today's show, Steven Ng talks with Jeff Kurtti, creative consultant for the Walt Disney Family Museum in an interview that took place at last summer's NFFC convention in Garden Grove, CA.

The Walt Disney Family Museum's key component is a huge exhibit on work and life of Walt Disney, and is designed to bring a personal view of Walt Disney to a new generation of visitors.

The museum is located at the Presidio in San Francisco because Ron and Diane Disney Miller live there in Napa Valley and San Francisco and they want to be close to its administration and collection. With the mandate of the Presidio to become self-sustaining by 2012, so they went looking for tenants and approached the family. Also, they didn't want to be that close to corporate headquarters to avoid confusion with official corporate endeavors.

This museum will be different from other museums dedicated to other individuals such as presidents or authors because there is so many audio and video images of him talking about what he thought and felt, and so throughout the museum you'll hear Walt telling his own story in his own words.

They are in an old army barracks on the Presidio, and they have the most ruined of all of the buildings, so they were able to pretty much do whatever they wanted in rebuilding the interior of the building. This was designed by The Rockwell Group in New York. They had the opportunity to create several environments within the building that were reflective of the stories being told in them.

Most of the artifacts came from family, both from Diane and from the grandchildren. They've also had unprecedented cooperation from The Walt Disney Company, with Jeff specifically thanking Bob Iger and Steve Clark. They even have an actual multiplane camera on loan from the company. Thanks to Dave Smith, Robert Tiemann and Becky Cline at the Walt Disney Archives, they were also able to reproduce key correspondence from Walt. The Archives also passed along a big chunk of personal stuff that there was no place for and was just sitting in storage.

There were about 10 boxes of personal things that were taken from his office after his death that were passed along by the archives, including condolence cards and telegrams sent to Lillian Disney after Walt's death. Jeff told a story about how there was one particular box that was opened when Walt's grandson Walter was there that had lots of personal items. Walter opened a shaving kit and looked up and said "smells like Grandpa." That immediately made everything so much more personal and more human, and that's the part of Walt that the museum doesn't want to be forgotten. They want to make sure that people never forget that he was a real person who had a real family, and isn't just a brand name.

The museum is scheduled to open late this year. Installations should be taking place in the spring and the fall, and while there's no official date yet, the museum may open in the fall. The news about actual dates will first come out through the museum's Web site.

The museum is structured as a self-guided walkthrough, but it's procedural and not random galleries. There is a story path that you follow through the museum. You can go through as a family group or you can go solo and explore it in depth. An ardent admirer of Walt and his work could spend a half-day or you could come back over multiple days. People could take their time and experience everything that is being presented. There's enough in San Francisco and the Presidio area that it could be great weekend visit in conjunction with the rest of the area.

They will be able to expand upon some of the presented elements, but they don't want to become a "Walt Disney Archives North." While they will be able to expand on elements on display and people will be able to access more information through the in-house computer system (including examining some stuff that isn't on display), the museum is more for the aficionado than the scholar.

Mike and Mark talked a bit about traveling to California and combining trips to the San Francisco area and Disneyland. Mark described his first trip to California with his wife, where they drove down the coast from the Bay Area to Disneyland over two days.

Mark and Mike also discussed the visceral connection that the scent of the shaving kit must have provided, and wondered what it would be like if they could duplicate that aroma to help people feel that much closer to the man.

Thanks to Jeff Kurtti for talking with Steven, and to Chuck Oberleitner and the NFFC for setting that up.

Listener Feedback

MousePlanet staff photographer Frank Anzalone wrote in response to last week's feature with Listener of the Month Sharla Manglass, where she discussed her experience of four parks in one day. Frank and his wife actually did five parks last July, starting the day with morning Extra Magic Hours at Typhoon Lagoon and finishing up with evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Chris Henry also played "can you top this" with Sharla, describing "the greatest day of my life" in early February 2004, when he visited all four major theme parks, plus took a couple of trips down Summit Plummet at Blizzard Beach. Chris did 14 rides/shows, had dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern, saw 2 fireworks shows (Wishes and Illuminations), and rode in the front car of the monorail.

Marc from Hoffman Estates IL wrote in to compliment Mark on his interview with Disney Vacation Club President Jim Lewis on Episode 273, finding it very interesting and informative. He wished that we could have discussed projects that are on the horizon that are not public knowledge yet.

Marc also noted that he lives near the mall in Chicago where the Doorway to Dreams is located and just stopped in to look at the Bay Lake Towers rooms. He actually bought in to the DVC the at Doorway to Dreams last Febuary and he will be staying at the Animal Kingdom Villas in March.

March of Dimes fundraising kick-off

Mark has gotten an early start on raising funds for the March of Dimes! Last year, MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners helped Mark to raise over $5,000 for the worthy charity. We're looking to beat that this year and raise $6,000! Just go to Mark's fundraising page and help to provide a better chance to prevent prematurity and to help those babies that are born prematurely.


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Wrapping up

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

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