About the Exhibition
The Walt Disney Family Museum is pleased to announce the opening of a new special exhibition, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II, a retrospective of The Walt Disney Studios’ extensive contributions to the Allies’ World War II effort. Curated by World War II historian Kent Ramsey, this immersive exhibition will be on view in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall.
When Walt Disney received word that the Disney studio lot in Burbank had been requisitioned as an Army anti-aircraft base after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, he and his staff pledged to support the war effort without hesitation—and without profit. This original exhibition illustrates how the The Walt Disney Studios devoted over 90% of its wartime output to producing training, propaganda, entertainment, and public-service films, publicity and print campaigns, and over 1,200 insignia, while also deploying a group of talented artists, including Walt Disney himself, to Latin America on a Goodwill Tour.
“The museum is humbled and honored to mount the first major exhibition to explore in depth The Walt Disney Studios’ involvement in the second world war effort,” says Kirsten Komoroske, Executive Director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. “This rarely-shared period in the Studios’ history offers insight into the creativity, innovation, and positivity that Walt and his team brought to the military leaders, troops, and civilians at home and abroad.”
During this unique period in animation history, The Walt Disney Studios functioned as a morale-builder for both the civilian public and deployed Allied troops. Walt knew that cartoons would be an ideal medium for communicating with the American people—in an uncomplicated and amusing manner—about war-related issues and anxieties. In addition to the short films and military insignia produced, Disney characters appeared in a variety of home-front initiatives, from advertisements, magazines, and stamp books, to government posters promoting tax payment, food recycling, rationing, war bond sales, and farm production. The exhibition includes 550 examples of these rare historical objects and film clips.
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, The Walt Disney Studios and World War II will be on display in the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall through Spring 2021. A new insignia designed exclusively for this exhibition by Mike Gabriel features Donald Duck dressed as a pilot holding onto the wings of a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat while soaring over the Golden Gate Bridge. This boat was commonly seen in the San Francisco Bay during World War II.
The Walt Disney Family Museum is honored to provide free admission to the museum and this exhibition year-round for active and retired military personnel and their spouses and dependents with valid ID.
Read the exhibition press release at waltdisney.org/press-room.
Museum Closure Notification
The museum is currently closed due to San Francisco's purple-tier status. We look forward to seeing you when the museum is permitted to open. For updates, visit waltdisney.org/visitor-update.