All photographs © Mel Birnkrant. Some of the images © the Walt Disney Company
Throughout the months leading to the set up day, the preparations had been never ending. First of all, I had to unpack everything, and then, arrange it in general groupings, so, I could get some idea of what might go into each of the cases. Those 18 cases that were inset in the walls had to be planned ahead of time. And every single item had to be described and itemized for insurance purposes. The entire collection was insured for the duration of the show by the only agent who was willing, Lloyds of London.
Crews from the ad agency came to the schoolhouse to interview yours truly, and take photographs of selected items to use for publicity. Then they produced the Press Release, below:
A grand opening celebration was planned for selected guests, and my family was among the chosen.
Inserted in the invitation, was a card and a stamped envelope, with which to RSVP. When I saw all this material I did a double take. The artist who did all of the above had misinterpreted my instructions to make sure that all Mickey images had pie-cut eyes.
Fortunately, it was not too late to fix the mistake on the cover of the Catalogue. Alas, the fix resulted in a curious combination of “Old” Mickey, with pie-cut eyes, and “New” Minnie.
A variation of the list I made for insurance purposes became the essence of the Catalogue. It proved to be an enormous undertaking. Every object selected to be in the exhibition, was individually described, listed, and numbered in the catalogue. They were also roughly divided into categories that might be displayed in close proximity at the show. As each listing was accomplished, I wrapped the piece in tissue paper and packed it in the huge moving boxes that Bamberger's had supplied. Thus as the catalogues listings were completed, so was the process of packing up the collection for transportation .
Here is the complete catalogue, a little larger than life size for readability, below. This gives an accurate idea of all the objects in the show. Reading over the catalogue now, I realize it was a rather spectacular array of things, considering I’d only been collecting for five years, and doing it on a shoestring.
Speaking of mistakes, after I made a fuss about Mickey’s eyes, Bambergers thought that perhaps it would be a good idea to run some other stuff past me. Therefore, they sent me a proof sheet for a spectacular full page ad they intended to run in the coming weekend's papers. OMG! The page was amazing, chock full of adequate renditions of dozens of comic characters. The only problem was, only half of them were Disney. The artist who created it didn’t realize that Bugs bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, and Popeye, etc. are not Copyright Walt Disney. A last minute correction was made. I have copies of both versions, around the house someplace; if I ever find them, I will add them here.
Sometime before the show, Bamberger’s hired a professional photographer to shoot this mind boggling, mouthwatering studio photograph of Mickey and Minnie. I hadn’t seen them in person, since well before Bamberger's procured them. The photo drove me crazy with anticipation!
Now, with everything in place, and every mouse in the house safely transported to New Jersey, I was about to join them on the following morning. The fact that I would be setting up the show was all part of the arrangement. The contract, at my insistence, stipulated that only I would be handling the objects, unpacking them, setting them up, and packing them up again, after the show was done.