In 2019, The Walt Disney Family Museum was gifted one of two existing Mousegetars belonging to beloved head Mouseketeer Jimmie Dodd. Manufactured by Candelario Delgado of Candelas Guitar Shop, the custom-made tenor guitar was previously part of the Jimmie Dodd Archive housed at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) University in Valencia, CA.
Last year, a representative of CalArts contacted us with a generous offer to transfer the guitar, its case, and accessories to the museum. It had been donated to CalArts by Dodd’s family, along with his archive of Mickey Mouse Club memorabilia, including original musical scores, personal papers, and photographs. Dodd’s family selected CalArts for the donation because of its connection to the Disney family, as CalArts had been founded by Walt and Roy O. in 1961. Since most archives house historical records that focus on paper documents, three-dimensional objects like a guitar are not always able to be displayed and shared with the public the way a museum can. We agreed that our collection would be an appropriate place for this special piece of Disney history.
The guitar arrived at the museum packed in a standard guitar case along with numerous replacement strings and guitar picks. However, during the unpacking, the Collections staff noticed the “s” was missing from the letters spelling out Mousegetar along the bottom of the guitar. The instrument had been stored in its case and the guitar itself and the interior surfaces of the case were quite dusty.
Before an object can be introduced to the Collections storage area, our conservation team is asked to do a quick assessment to determine if the object has any signs of current or past insect infestation. This is part of the pest mitigation procedures here at The Walt Disney Family Museum to ensure that the collection is not exposed to insects or pests that cause damage. No active infestation was observed; however, it was decided that before the case and its contents where placed into Collections storage, our conservation team would vacuum the interior of the case and determine if any other treatment was needed. During the examination process, the conservators and Collections team were excited to discover the missing “s” in the crevice of a small compartment, where it had slipped between the sides of the interior case wall.
Structurally, the beloved Mousegetar is in great condition. After further documentation by our team of registrars, conservation will then set their sights on a minor surface cleaning, reattaching the “s” back to its original location, and polishing up the Mousegetar lettering. Our preparators will create custom housing to safely house and preserve the case, guitar, and all of the accessories. Once complete, the Mousegetar will be ready for its introduction into the museum’s storage area where it will be housed safely, preserved for future display and the enjoyment of generations to come.
–Jamie O’Keefe and Tonja Morris
Senior Registrar and Senior Conservator of 3D Objects, respectively
The Walt Disney Family Museum
- Jimmie Dodd’s Mousegetar, c. 1955; Gift of the California Institute of the Arts, Collection of the Walt Disney Family Foundation; Mousegetar © Disney
- Jimmie Dodd’s Mousegetar close-up, c. 1955; Gift of the California Institute of the Arts, Collection of the Walt Disney Family Foundation; Mousegetar © Disney
- Jimmie Dodd’s Mousegetar in guitar case, c. 1955; Gift of the California Institute of the Arts, Collection of the Walt Disney Family Foundation; Mousegetar © Disney