A bridge over an architectural pool led through the beckoning doorway. Inside, the hall was dominated by a revolving display of eight test tubes—the Chemitron. Each test tube contained one of the "eight basic materials found in nature from which countless chemicals and plastics can be made."
|The eight sculptures of the Chemitron were created by Roger Noble Burnham|
The Chemitron (spelled Chematron in some materials) display consisted of eight, eight-foot high test tubes, each with a 24" clear plastic statuette. Noted sculptor Roger Noble Burnham created the figurines and plastics engineer Glen Kline cast them. A stylized arm and open palm on the ceiling illustrated a ball of fire in mankind's hand directly above the Chemitron, "symbolizing the processing of chemicals."
|The Chemitron, left, and other displays in the Hall of Chemistry|
|Edgar Monsanto Queeny|
Walt Disney was acquainted with Edgar Queeny as an avid naturalist and amateur filmmaker. Queeny's film The Lakuto (1951) revealed previously unknown details of an African tribe, and his latest, Silver Lightning (1954), explored the life of Atlantic salmon. Queeny had run Monsanto since Walt invented Mickey Mouse—Edgar's father created the company and named it for his wife, Olga Monsanto.
Tomorrowland, added to the opening day lineup a little more than six months before, was dominated by two 30,000-square foot exhibit buildings. Monsanto signed up for 4,000 square feet facing the hub. WED Enterprises was busy with the rest of the park; Monsanto had no educational display staff. There was no time, but Monsanto's reputation was on the line.
Enter Bob Henry and Roger Tierney. After graduating Pasadena Junior College in 1937, they went into business together designing, building, and decorating floats for Pasadena's Tournament of Roses parade, held each New Year's Day. By the early 1950s, Floats, Inc. was responsible for 15 floats in each Rose Parade, including floats for the city and county of Los Angeles. Their designer, Ray DuShane, jumped into action for Monsanto.
|Each test tube, as well as the entire Chemitron itself, rotated (Photo: Daveland)|
"Where Chemistry Works Wonders for You"—doesn't that sound like a Rose Parade float tag line?
(Thanks to Louisa Bergner for information about sculptor Roger Noble Burnham and plastics engineer Glen Kline.)
|Before the sign was added, the Hall of Chemistry (right) looked just as bleak and Soviet as its twin to the north.|