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Rebecca Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives and Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute stand with the prop book from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.
Rebecca Cline, director of the Walt Disney Archives and Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute stand with the prop book from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Photo credit: Emily Leopard-Davis/AL DÍA News.

The Disney 100 exhibition is coming to the Franklin Institute

The exhibition will kick off the world tour celebration of 100 years of Disney in February 2023.

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The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923 in Los Angeles, California. To celebrate its 100th year in business, the company is kicking off an exhibition tour at the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia. The exhibition will open on February 18, 2023.

The tour will also hit Chicago, Kansas City, and Munich, Germany, with more international spots to be announced. 

This exhibit has been in the works for three-and-a-half years. During the announcement press conference on Nov. 16, Larry Dubinski, President and CEO of the Franklin Institute, discussed the long history that the Institute and Disney share. This includes the Franklin Institute displaying drawings from Fantasia, showing the movie Donald Duck In Mathmagic Land in the planetarium, and being a filming location for the National Treasure movie. 

“The Franklin Institute has spent almost 200 years bringing stories of innovation and discovery to the public in an immersive and interactive way, so Disney100: The Exhibition is a perfect fit for us and our audience. We are proud to host the world premiere at The Franklin Institute so fans across Philadelphia and beyond can have the first opportunity to see these crown jewels come to life in beautifully crafted galleries reflecting Disney's imaginative storytelling, innovation, discovery, and wonder,” said Dubinski.

Rebecca Cline, the director of the Walt Disney Archive, explained that Disney gave Semmel Exhibitions — the company it partnered with to produce the exhibit — some parameters to look for in a potential museum partner. This included interest in partnering with Disney and an East Coast location. 

She also explained the importance of the location, “We were able to come here to Philadelphia to share Disney in a place that we don’t have a theme park already. We have parks in Orlando and we have them in California, but we wanted to come to the East Coast,” Cline told AL DÍA. “And so it's great to be in this area and share with the fans here in this part of the world.” 

The exhibit will be made up of ten immersive galleries that will feature over 250 “Crown Jewel” artifacts from the Walt Disney Archives. This includes original artwork, costumes, props, and other memorabilia. 

Five such items were revealed ahead of the exhibit’s opening: the Disneyland Employee Badges #1 that was issued to Walt Disney in 1955; the Steamboat Whistle from Steamboat Willie; the Prop Storybook from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; the hilt of the Skywalker lightsaber from The Rise of Skywalker; and the Magic Ring from The Shaggy Dog. 

Six of the galleries were also revealed: Where It All Began, Where Do the Stories Come From?, Sources of Inspiration, The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery, The Nautilus Window, and Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks. 

Here is a brief description of the six galleries:


Where It All Began
“This gallery introduces visionary filmmaker and innovator Walt Disney and his philosophies that laid the foundation for the Walt Disney Company. Guests will explore his story from before Mickey Mouse to Mickey’s debut in Steamboat Willie in 1928 to the fantastic breakthroughs in animation during the early 1930s.”
 

Rendering of the Where It All Began exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of the Where It All Began exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Where Do the Stories Come From?
“A gallery dedicated to the art of storytelling with ever-changing multimedia environments that illustrate how Disney storytellers bring characters to life. Guests can explore the sources of inspiration for Disney’s most beloved and iconic films through art and artifacts from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Frozen, and The Princess and the Frog.”
 

Rendering of the Where Do the Stories Come From. Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of the Where It All Began exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Sources of Inspiration
“From classic fairy tales and legends to original creations, this immersive and interactive installation invites visitors to explore the literary influences behind some of their favorite stories and see how they inspired Disney artists and storytellers.”
 

Rendering of the Sources of Inspiration exhibit. Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of the Sources of Inspiration exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

The Spirit of Adventures and Disney
“From the depths of the ocean and the mysteries of the jungle to the outer reaches of the galaxy, Disney adventure stories from Disney, Star Wars, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe invite exploration and discovery in this interactive gallery where curious youngsters can embark on a quest to uncover hidden artifacts from favorite films.”
 

Rendering of The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of The Spirit of Adventure and Discovery exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

The Nautilus Window
“Guests can peer through an interactive window of Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine, as seen in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for a glimpse of Disney and Pixar’s enchanting underwater worlds.”

Rendering of The Nautilus Window exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of The Nautilus Window exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks
“Guests step into a recreation of Main Street, U.S.A., to explore the legacy and development of Disney parks and attractions worldwide.” The gallery will periodically shift from day to night. 

Rendering of the Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.
Rendering of the Your Disney World: A Day in the Parks exhibit. Photo courtesy of The Walt Disney Company.

After the press conference, Cline spoke with AL DÍA about the exhibit. Cline has been with Disney for 33 years, 29 of those at the archive. She began working for the company in 1989 as a secretary before beginning her tenure in the archives in 1993.

“And then [I] worked my way up through the archives from secretary to director,” said Cline.

She is only the second director of the archives, which were founded by her former boss Dave Smith in 1970, whom she says “taught me everything I know.”

Some of the oldest artifacts to be put on display will be a zoetrope from the 1860s and a megaphone, both owned by Walt Disney, as well as a reproduction of the 1923 contract Disney signed to create the Walt Disney company. The archives still have the original copy of the contract, but it is too frail to display. 

The artifact that Cline is most excited for people to see is the snow globe from Mary Poppins. It is special to her since Mary Poppins was the first film she ever saw and was one of her favorites. 

She said of the snow globe, “We’ve made it even more magical for this exhibition. So you have to come and see what we’ve done to celebrate it.”  

When asked how she thinks the exhibition will be received, Cline said, “I think it’ll be very well received. I really do. We’ve crafted it very carefully to make sure anybody of any age and any background will be able to enjoy it and experience the things that they grew up loving. And what they love about Disney and the wonder that they feel when they think of the word Disney, that they’ll see it in this.” 

Tickets for the exhibit are currently on sale. Daytime tickets are $45 for adults and $41 for children 3-11. General museum admission is included in this price. Evening tickets are $25 for both adults and children. General museum admission is not included. 

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