World Showcase is full of galleries, most of which the average guest passes by without a second thought. These archives serve as another piece, beyond the architecture and attractions, of the ambassadorial presentation of each country in World Showcase. These exhibits are a key component to a deeper understanding of the history, culture, and customs of their home country.
Yet, inside these galleries are not just art and artifacts, but a story waiting to be heard. Like any respectable art exhibit, the galleries of World Showcase present pieces that revolve around a central theme. A period of time, when Vikings were at the pinnacle of their reach for example, a known traditional trade, such as the works of a coppersmith, or a gallery of a known artist’s works could all be found within the walls of these galleries, all with a specific story to tell.
In late September 2007, a new exhibit opened just off to the side of The American Adventure called National Treasures. For those of you that keep up with Disney’s film projects, while the naming of such a gallery would conjure up images of secret books, maps on the Declaration of Independence, and colored spectacles, the contents of this display are much more valuable, and much less fiction. Enshrined inside are pieces of our heritage and history, memories of the glorious and ghastly moments of our past. Abraham Lincoln’s unmistakable hat, portraits of Chief Joseph, Rosa Park’s Congressional Medal and arrest record, Mark Twain’s writing tools, and even a moon rock held in honor of the astronaut Gus Grissom are among the many true treasures found within these walls.
The American Adventure has been known to make adults weep, myself included, not only for the trying and terrifying times we have been through, but for giving us a sense of pride in who we are and what we have already accomplished in our short history. The National Treasures exhibit compels the same reaction. And while the other galleries of World Showcase may not present an American with the same sense of patriotic pride or awareness of our past, they do bestow such gifts upon their own countrymen and women, and present us with a chance to further our knowledge of our place in this world.
The next time you are wandering through the shops, dining on regional fare, or taking a boat or movie trip through time, remember that further answers to what makes this or that country unique are only a few steps away, in their galleries. Then, take those steps to visit some of these quiet and hidden troves.