About the Column

You know it costs too much. You know you'd never buy it if you weren't at Disney. But that's the power of MouseMerch: the racks and shelves and bins and boxes full of Disney merchandise that your kids must have - and, let's not be coy about it, you must have, too. Don't worry. You're among friends. But how to separate the most magical merchandise from the most mundane? That's easy, and it's free! Read Chris Taylor's weekly column, MouseMerch, and then impress your friends with your fantastic finds.

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FROM: MouseMerch Published Thursdays

Disney at the Smithsonian

Chris Taylor is at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and while there he looked for evidence of Disney's importance in American cultural history. He found quite a bit of it, and shares his best sightings, with plenty of pictures.

If Disney wasn't one of the best at merchandising its properties, I wouldn't be here writing about it. And even before Disney came into contact with both George Lucas and Jim Henson, both the Muppets and Star Wars were merchandising powerhouses. And nothing proves this more successfully than the number of items from all three on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

As I write this, I'm in our nation's capitol for a visit. A tour through both the Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum brought to light just how deep Disney runs in our national heritage.

Let's take a look at a few items on display and explore how Disney became a part of our everyday lives.

  • C3PO
    This is the original shooting costume for C3PO from what was then just known at Star Wars. It was constructed in 1973. It's part of the display on the main floor of the American History Museum right in front of the main entrance. And next to it...
  • Mickey Ears
    One of the first Mickey Mouse ear caps . This was worn by Mouseketeer Lonnie Burr and was worn by him again in 1980 for a TV special.
  • Lunchboxes
    These lunch boxes (which include Daniel Boone , the Muppets , and Star Wars ) are kept in the American History Museum's cafe on the lower level as part of an exhibit about the history of the lunch box. And yes, I had the Star Wars box, and I think my mom still has it packed away somewhere.
  • Dumbo Ride Car
    This is from the first version of the Dumbo ride at Disneyland . It's in pristine condition.

  • Wish Upon a Star Music Book
    Sheet music for "When You Wish Upon a Star" . During the early 20th century, sheet music was a popular choice for families to indulge in after dinner. I have no doubt this selection was chosen often.
  • Muppets
    The Smithsonian has two versions of Kermit the Frog . This is one of the first, and shown here as part of a young Jim Henson's earliest puppet shows. Kermit was not the star, but rather a puppet that looks like what became Scooter (the theater owner's nephew on "The Muppet Show") and a snake that looks very similar to the snake in "Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas". You have seen that, right? Cause if not, what are you waiting for?
  • Gremlin
    Walt himself designed this gremlin patch for the Air Force during World War II. This is one of the few remaining patches left.
  • Star Wars
    I leave you this time with some examples of Star Wars merchandise found in the museums. Yoda coffee mugs , light sabers, action figures, and plenty of books were found in two of the big three Smithsonian Museums.

This is just a small slice of the treasures you can find at the Smithsonian, Disney and otherwise. I highly recommend a visit.

See ya real soon!