Walt Disney Archives Exhibit @ Bowers Museum

Inside the Walt Disney Archives: 50 Years of Preserving the Magic opens at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana on Saturday March 7th and runs through August 30th. The Bowers Museum is located four miles south of Disneyland, just off the I5 in Santa Ana, for more on the Museum visit their website – https://www.bowers.org  The Bowers Museum Complex is over 158,000 square feet encompassing several buildings and a courtyard including an 11,000 square foot children’s museum named Kidseum.

The Walt Disney Archives exhibit premiered at the 2018 D23 Expo in Japan.  It then toured Japan before being shipped back to the United States.  The exhibit has been retooled a bit for the U.S. tour.  The Bowers museum is the first U.S. stop for this traveling exhibit.   The exhibit at the Bowers Museum features 465 items from the archives using approximately 10,000 square feet.   Here is the original press release on the exhibit with more details.  Throughout the run of the exhibit there will be lectures, film screenings, children’s programs, and dining experiences.  For full details visit the Bower’s Museum Website, here is a direct link to the Bowers Museum Calendar.

I was invited to a media preview of the exhibit.  Below are some cell phone pictures & video from the ribbon cutting and a first walk through the exhibit. For a more in depth look at the exhibit here is my full picture set.


The Disneyland Straw Hatters Entertained the Crowd before the event and provided music during the event.
The Disneyland Straw Hatters Entertained the Crowd before the event and provided music during the event.
Peter Keller - President & CEO of the Bowers Museum
Peter Keller – President & CEO of the Bowers Museum opened the event
Michael Vargo - VP, Corporate Communications & Head of D23
Michael Vargo – VP, Corporate Communications & Head of D23
Becky Cline - Director Walt Disney Archives
Becky Cline – Director Walt Disney Archives
Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse arrive for the ribbon cutting
Minnie Mouse & Mickey Mouse arrive for the ribbon cutting
The ribbon cutting moment
The ribbon cutting moment

time to head inside. A banner near the entrance for the exhibit.
time to head inside. A banner near the entrance for the exhibit.
The Walt Disney Archives exhibit will run through August 30th. Here is the admission pricing information.
The Walt Disney Archives exhibit will run through August 30th. Here is the admission pricing information.
A display case in the lobby
A display case in the lobby
A photo backdrop in the lobby before entering the exhibit.
A photo backdrop in the lobby before entering the exhibit.
Dumbo is overhead as you make your way to the gallery housing the exhibit.
Dumbo is overhead as you make your way to the gallery housing the exhibit.

Walt's Office set from Saving Mr. Banks
Walt’s Office set from Saving Mr. Banks
Props from several films including Davy Crockett's Coonskin Cap and blocks from Mary Poppins.
Props from several films including Davy Crockett’s Coonskin Cap and blocks from Mary Poppins.
Rex from Star Tours is part of the Theme Parks Collection
Rex from Star Tours is part of the Theme Parks Collection
Haunted Mansion display
Haunted Mansion display
An Alien from the Great Movie Ride and a figure from El Río del Tiempo (The River of Time - boat ride in Mexico at Epcot) plus Rex.
An Alien from the Great Movie Ride and a figure from El Río del Tiempo (The River of Time – boat ride in Mexico at Epcot) plus Rex.
Some items from the Vehicles Collection - Herbi, Bicycle piano from the Wonderful World of Color Golden Horsehoe Review, and the Model T from the Absent-Minded Professor
Some items from the Vehicles Collection – Herbi, Bicycle piano from the Wonderful World of Color Golden Horsehoe Review, and the Model T from the Absent-Minded Professor
Costumes on display include Saving Mr. Banks & the Rocketeer
Costumes on display include Saving Mr. Banks & the Rocketeer
Everyone recognize this from Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Everyone recognize this from Honey I Shrunk the Kids
A car from Ford v Ferrari
A car from Ford v Ferrari
The finale is an area dedicated to Disney Legends showing some of Legends Plaza at the Studios in Burbank. Dave Smith's Legends Award is on display.
The finale is an area dedicated to Disney Legends showing some of Legends Plaza at the Studios in Burbank. Dave Smith’s Legends Award is on display.

My Thoughts/Observations/First Impressions:

  • I had never been to the Bowers Museum so this was my first time on the grounds, I need to go back sometime to see their regular exhibits and explore the museum itself.  We were only able to see the Archives Exhibit during the preview.
  • The museum is close to Disneyland, it was 6 miles from the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and about 15 minutes to get there.    It is right off the I5 freeway in Santa Ana.  So if you live in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas or are planning a visit to the Disneyland Resort it is convenient.
  • The exhibit features a large variety of items including some of the history of the archives itself which I enjoyed.  Some of the information provided shared more about the archives too which I found interesting.   The 465 items chosen for the exhibit span most of the company dating back to the founding of the company up through some recent film releases plus some 20th Century Fox items even.
  • Prop Culture is a new series coming to Disney+.  It was previewed in one gallery on a screen in the corner, the clips they showed were really interesting and I look forward to seeing the series. This series will feature an extended look at props and costumes form several films.  Interviews will include the people who made them, the actors/actresses who wore/used them and others involved in the film and archives.
  • A question I always receive with these exhibits is if you have been to other exhibits such as the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives back in 2012 or the D23 Expo exhibits over the years how much is new.   The answer really comes down to how many of the exhibits have you been to?  I have attended most of them so I would say a majority of the items that were on display I  have seen in one form or another over the years.  There was a percentage of new items and the presentation is always different and you pick  up on new details with each viewing.
  • Another common question is how much time should I allocate.   Since we did not tour the rest of the museum I cannot say on that front.  The Disney Exhibit I spent about 90 minutes walking through and photographing.

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