Baylor Alumnus Leads New Walt Disney Museum

April 9, 2009

Contact: Dick Veit, School of Music concert and promotions manager, (254) 710-3991

Richard Benefield, a graduate of the Baylor University School of Music, is the new director of the new Walt Disney Family Museum, which is expected to open its doors to the public in October of 2009.

Benefield earned two degrees in vocal performance as a student of Richard Robinson at Baylor: a bachelor of music in 1976 and a master of music in 1980. He also studied organ with Joyce Jones, The Joyce Oliver Bowden Professor of Music and Organist in Residence. In 1995, he received a doctor of musical arts from the New England Conservatory of Music.

From 2002 to September 2008, Benefield was deputy director of the Harvard Art Museum, before beginning his position at the Walt Disney Family Museum later that same month.

He joined the Harvard organization in 1999 as assistant director for finance and administration, and prior to that worked as assistant director at the Rhode Island School of Design.

The $112 million Walt Disney Family Museum will be housed in three of San Francisco's historic buildings at the Presidio. It was conceived as an effort by Walt Disney's heirs to correct what they see as the unfairly negative portrayal that his legacy has suffered over the years since his death in 1966. The museum was financed by the sale of bonds and also by funds from the family's foundation.

The Presidio location was selected because of its proximity to the northern California home of Diane Disney Miller, who is Walt Disney's eldest daughter and sole surviving child. Exhibits will range from personal items to early animation cels, and the entertainment mogul's life will be presented in chronological sequence. The museum will include 215 video monitors, a 120-seat theater, food court and gift shop.

About 350,000 visitors are expected annually.

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