LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One of the most amazing collections of real-life Americana ever assembled -- National Treasures -- arrives Sept. 28. It's located inside the landmark Epcot attraction at the center of World Showcase, a place where Walt Disney World guests can become completely immersed in the astonishing authenticity and culture of eleven great nations.
"These are the jewels of museums and foundations all over the country, all gathered in one place," said Jim Clark, Walt Disney Imagineering Ambassador Representative and one of the team members designing National Treasures. "You'll see one of Abraham Lincoln's actual stovepipe hats, which has never been publicly exhibited outside of the Lincoln family home in Manchester, Vt. "We're also presenting many of Lincoln's personal items, like the book of Lord Byron poetry that inspired his second inaugural address and his dressing room mirror -- where he probably took his last glimpse of himself before he went off to Ford's Theatre."
The National Treasures collection will also be continually changed, so guests never know when they'll see something new. They'll see pieces of history that actually changed the world.
Some are well-known artifacts; others are the little things that played huge roles in making major breakthroughs. One of the most inspiring examples of this is one of the microscopes George Washington Carver used to help revolutionize American agriculture.
In addition to Dr. Carver, Americans from diverse backgrounds will be celebrated, including items from the lives of Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson. An entire section devoted to the space program will feature the flight vest of Native American Commander John Herrington. The actual Purple Heart medal awarded to Japanese-American World War II hero Sen. Daniel Inouye can also be seen.
A number of Thomas Edison's original inventions will also be on display -- inventions that affect the way we live today. They include one of the last surviving original Tin Foil Cylinder Players that were created to demonstrate recorded sound to people who had never imagined it before. An innovation that leads all the way to today's MP3 players. The Edison portion is also one of the largest in the National Treasures exhibit because of the sheer size of some of the inventions. According to Clark, "The motion picture projector is so gigantic, it will barely fit it in the case."
The exhibition will feature more than 40 spectacular and unique artifacts on loan to Epcot from a variety of prestigious institutions and private lenders: Hildene (the Lincoln family home), The Mark Twain House & Museum, The Henry Ford, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Keeper of the Word Foundation, Gregory J. Reed Esq., Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Commander John B. Herrington. To avoid risking damage to the originals, some documents are reproductions and labelled as such.