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Rare Disney Artifacts Take Center Stage at Museum of Science and Industry

By Sam Cholke | October 17, 2013 6:56am
 The Museum of Science and Industry opened a new exhibit of artifacts from the Disney Archives on Wednesday.
MSI Disney Exhibit
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HYDE PARK — Walt Disney’s desk sits in the Museum of Science and Industry just as it did on the day he died — exactly as it did on the day he died.

“If you lift up any of those things, you can see the sun spots because they sat there for so long,” said David Woody, exhibit design director at the museum, who helped bring in Walt Disney's original desk and recreate his office.

Woody said he normally manages a team that comes up with new exhibits, but he decided to personally design the “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive” because of a nostalgia for his first job out of college.

Standing in front of four ghosts from Disney World’s Haunted Mansion, Woody admitted a fascination with the father of Mickey Mouse that led him to a Disney recruiter who was looking for a set designer to help designing the Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World.

“I went sprinting back to my dorm to grab my resume,” Woody said as he walked over to the decapitated animatronic head of Abraham Lincoln from the Hall of Presidents. Woody admitted that his first job as an assistant to an assistant was not glamorous. “I was sort of the pencil sharpener in a way.”

Woody said personally it was a thrill to work with the researchers at the Walt Disney Archive to bring the original costumes from “Mary Poppins” and the physical storybooks that open “Sleeping Beauty” and “Cinderella.”

Becky Cleine, the director of the archive, said the “Sleeping Beauty” book designed by Eyvind Earl, who lent the film its sharp lines and dark colors, was her personal favorite.

She said one of the most unassuming but impressive objects to make the trip from Burbank, Calif., was the first notebook to ever bear Mickey’s face, a humble beginning to a massive merchandising empire.

“It’s the only one I’ve ever seen,” Cleine said of the small paper notebook found at Midwestern paper sale.

She said the archive wasn’t able to bring such massive artifacts from its warehouses as the original deck from the Black Pearl from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but did bring the 11-foot Nautilus submarine from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

In a preview before the exhibit opened to the public Wednesday, students from Newberry Math and Science Academy were more interested in a large case of Walt Disney’s awards, leaving finger-streaked glass as the public filed in for the afternoon opening.

The exhibit runs through May 4 and costs $9 for adults and $7 for children on top of the cost of a general admission ticket.