It was approximately 6pm on a Monday night when the four of them showed up at the lower lobby, entry through the security door. The guests were gone, out of the way for the job at hand, exactly as planned. By 8pm they had finished. Strips of wallpaper that had been ripped off the wall with their bare hands; the discarded strips lay crumpled up in black trash bags. The vinyl lettering that had been meticulously placed on the walls had been scratched off. Every artwork was previously removed off the walls, and wrapped in cellophane, awaiting their return back home. This was the Teen Squad’s first glimpse into a gallery de-installation, an excerpt of an exhibition lifecycle most never witness, much less take part in.
The Walt Disney Family Museum’s Teen Studio Squad is a yearlong creative experience for teens in the Bay Area. By reaching out to potential teen volunteers, Walt Disney’s legacy is handed down to a new generation, infused with new ideas and innovation. As someone who was surrounded by Disney growing up, hearing about an opportunity to be a part of the Disney community immediately prompted me to apply for the squad. This year’s Teen Squad has brought together seven teens of varying interests, talents, and experiences, from aspiring animators to future engineers. One common trait unites us: a genuine interest in all things Disney and an eagerness to experience new things. As a part of the Teen Squad, we have the opportunity to participate in museum events, allowing us to discover what we want our story as part of the museum to be. As the first Teen Squad to commit to the museum for an entire year, we faced the unique opportunity to create a legacy for future squad members, as well as immerse ourselves in the unique history and life of The Walt Disney Family Museum. The environment of the museum encourages curiosity and exploration in a way that’s nearly impossible to find in a standard school environment. Where else can you meet Pixar animators, take drawing classes, de-install an exhibition, and explore the galleries? As a member of the Teen Squad I’ve been able to partake in all of this and more. The opportunities at the museum have revealed to me interests I never knew I had. There is freedom to engage with and support museum staff and fellow squad members, learning from and enhancing each other’s responsibilities.
A great deal of Walt Disney’s legacy is the continuation of the story. The idea that nothing is ever truly complete, because there is always something new to explore, create, and discover. This is the essence of the museum’s Teen Studio Squad: to carry on Walt’s legacy while also striving to be an innovative and a creative force at the museum. With our year-long journey already almost halfway over, this squad’s year will no doubt pass by too quickly. However, the path we have created is sure to remain with us for years to come.
To learn more about The Walt Disney Family Museum's Teen Squad, click here.
Teen Squad Member at The Walt Disney Family Museum