LOS ANGELES – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been keen to open a museum dedicated to films and filmmaking for almost as long as its members have been making sound films and handing out Oscars. It finally happened with the opening Thursday of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Here’s a spoiler-free look at the new seven-story, 300,000-square-foot Los Angeles Cinema Palace.
A LONG TIME AGO …
The museum has been hanging in the air of Hollywood for so long that the word “finally” can be found in almost every story or commentary about the opening.
“Finally, finally, boy, hi, welcome to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” Tom Hanks said in a media preview last week. Hanks, a board member, led fundraising for the $ 388 million project with fellow actor Annette Bening and Walt Disney executive chairman Robert Iger.
Announced in 2011 and scheduled to open for the first time in 2016, the museum has faced delays typical of such a project, as well as new ones, such as the discovery of more Ice Age fossils. adapted to the La Brea tar pits at the bottom of the boulder. . Then came a wave of pandemic postponements.
Academy president David Rubin told The Associated Press that the institution is playing the long game and that the museum, at least in concept, has been under construction not for a decade but almost a century. .
“We’ve kept the candle lit for 92 years,” said Rubin, the fifth president since the project was announced. “We went through a lot of hardships to get here. But it is time.
Bruce, a shark made from the “Jaws” mold, hangs above the museum’s bank of escalators. It is one of the few features that visitors can see in its open spaces. In order to admire the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”, a certain sledge from “Citizen Kane” or the droids from “Star Wars”, they will have to enter dark galleries as if entering a theater.
Film making tools are a major theme inside. An exhibit is built around a backdrop of Mount Rushmore used for Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”. Another showcases over a century of filmmaking machines, including today’s giant cutting machine used by Thelma Schoonmaker to edit Martin Scorsese films.
And moving images abound in almost all of the films featured.
Hanks measured very precisely how long it will take you to watch each clip, look at each dress and read each word: “It’s going to take you 3 and a half days.”
EXPAND THE SHOT
Academy executives have caught up on diversity issues at the Oscars in recent years. The museum allows them to pursue it from the start.
There are costumes from “The Wiz”, not just “The Wizard of Oz”.
The inaugural featured exhibition celebrates the works of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
The “Director’s Inspiration” gallery houses an exhibition on Spike Lee that includes costumes he wore in his films and a purple suit he wore to the Oscars in 2019, when he won Best Screenplay for “Black KkKlansman,” but stormed the anger when the best photo went to “Green Book”.
TWO WOMEN AND A BUBBLE OF SOAP
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum consists of two buildings – a former 1939 department store and a newly erected one – on Wilshire Boulevard next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Piano told the AP that filmmaking influenced his design early on, from his use of light and shade to how he viewed buildings as two archetypes of classic Hollywood characters.
“The old lady and the beautiful young lady,” said Piano, and “the two speak, linked by bridges.”
The new building is topped by a terrace and a concrete and glass dome which is the visual signature of the museum. Piano thinks this could lead to a nickname like “The Shard”, which was given to a London skyscraper he designed. He said he sincerely hoped it would be nicknamed “the soap bubble” and not “The Death Star”.
He emphasizes, however, that his building is not fragile. “The best thing about soap bubbles is that they explode,” he said. “But it will never, never, never be. It is very well built. “
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
This is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, not the Academy Museum of the Academy Awards. But he still provides a lot on the academy’s signing event for the Oscars. Along with actual statuettes from each decade, acceptance speeches are screened on the walls of a gallery that guides visitors through the history of the Oscars. Among them, the first of Steven Spielberg, in 1994, for having produced “Schindler’s List”. “I swear, I’ve never had one before,” said Spielberg. Visitors can experience this feeling in “The Oscars Experience”, which allows them to step into a simulation of acceptance on the stage of the Dolby Theater.
The space will lend itself to many uses beyond the usual museum visits. It was the first of what will undoubtedly be many galas on Saturday night, whose attendees included Olivia Rodrigo, Ava DuVernay and Sophia Loren.
And the terrace, overlooking the city, is likely to be a key cultural venue and Instagram magnet.
The 1,000-seat Geffen Theater, resplendent with seats and red carpets, will host screenings and premieres.
Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, Rubin and Hanks shared the parts they would name the best in the museum:
Hudson: “The designs Wes Anderson made for ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ and the puppets he made. It’s one of my son’s favorite movies. It was the emotional attachment I had.
Insist on: “I think moviegoers will be delighted to see Rosebud from ‘Citizen Kane’. It was one of my favorites. But I think when you go into our costume show and see the costumes from “The Wiz” and this great floral masterpiece from “Midsommar”, the Ari Aster movie, I think even if you haven’t seen the movies, you would be dazzled. “
Hanks: “It’s a room filled with old magic lanterns. The little slide projectors that hundreds of years ago, even before there was electricity, projected a lifelike image onto a white wall of tigers and lions, not just volcanoes from the past , but also volcanoes which exploded thanks to the power of the focused light of the candles. in front of your eyes.
Hanks added that the whole museum is, for him, “the biggest magic lantern in the world”.