Six of the earliest drawings of Mickey Mouse, dating back to 1928, will be displayed beginning this week in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, officials said Wednesday.
Museum officials said the Walt Disney Co. donated the drawings from the world's first completely synchronized sound cartoon, "Steamboat Willie," in which Mickey Mouse made his debut Nov. 18, 1928.The Smithsonian will also hold a reception for the famous Disney character's 60th birthday at the unveiling of the new collection on Wednesday, officials said.
Museum Director Roger Kennedy said America's favorite mouse has earned his place in history. He said Disney broke new ground in animation with the early cartoons of Mickey Mouse.
"Steamboat Willie" brought animation out of the silent-film era as the first cartoon to match sound with action. In "Steamboat Willie," the voice of Mickey Mouse was provided by Walt Disney himself.
"These drawings represent the emergence of an American art form, initiating what we now regard as the golden age of animation," said Charles McGovern, curator of the museum's Division of Community Life.
The drawings will join a collection of memorabilia related to the history of American entertainment.