The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has wanted to open a museum dedicated to cinema almost since its members have been making films with sound and handing out Oscars.
Finally it will happen with the inauguration of the Museum of the Academy of Cinema (Academy Museum of Motion Pictures).
Here’s a spoiler-free look at the new seven-story, 300,000-square-meter (300,000-square-meter) museum in Los Angeles.
A LONG TIME AGO
The museum has been on hold in Hollywood for so long that the word “finally” appears in almost every article or comment about its opening.
“Finally, finally yuppie, welcome to the Academy of Motion Picture Museum,” Tom Hanks said in a press release last week. Hanks, a member of the board of directors, spearheaded the fundraising campaign for the $ 388 million project along with actress Annette Bening and Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger.
Announced in 2011, and initially scheduled to open in 2016, the museum has been plagued by delays typical of this type of project, as well as new obstacles, such as the discovery of ice age fossils more typical of the tar pits found at a few meters from the museum. And then came the pandemic.
Academy president David Rubin told The Associated Press that the institution works for the long term and that the museum, in its concept at least, was in the works not for a decade, but for almost a century.
Bruce, a shark made from the mold of “Jaws” (“Jaws”), hangs above the museum’s escalators. It is one of the few pieces that visitors can see from its open spaces. In order to see the slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”, a sled from “Citizen Kane” or droids from “Star Wars”, they need to enter darkened galleries as if were in a movie theater.
Filming tools are the main topic inside. One exhibition is built around a Mount Rushmore background used in Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”. Another has movie machines from more than a century old, including a giant film-cutting machine used by Thelma Schoonmaker to edit Martin Scorsese’s films.
There are also videos of almost every one of the movies included.
Hanks has measured how long it would take to watch each video, see each dress, and read each word: “It will take you three and a half days.”
ENLARGE THE FRAME
Academy leaders have tried to update themselves on diversity issues at the Oscars in recent years. The museum allows them to try it from the beginning.
There are not only costumes from “The Wizard of Oz” but also from “The Wiz,” the African-American version from 1978.
The inaugural exhibition celebrates the work of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
The “Director’s Inspiration” gallery features a show about Spike Lee in costumes from his movies and a purple suit that led to the Oscars in 2019, when he won Best Screenplay for “Black KkKlansman” but he was furious when “Green Book” (“Green Book: A friendship without borders”) won the Oscar for best picture.
TWO WOMEN AND A SOAP BUBBLE
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the museum consists of two buildings – a former department store from 1939 and a newly built one – on Wilshire Boulevard, next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Piano told the AP that cinema inspired his design from the start, from his use of shadows and lights to the way he thought of buildings as two character archetypes from classic Hollywood.
The new building is crowned by a terrace and a glass and concrete dome that is the distinctive visual element of the museum. Piano believes this could lead to a nickname like “The Shard” that was given to a London skyscraper that he designed. The architect said he sincerely hopes this will be called “The Soap Bubble,” not “The Death Star.”
He stressed, however, that his building is not fragile. “The best thing about soap bubbles is that they pop,” he said. But this never, never, never. It is very well built.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
This is the Museum of the Film Academy, not the Museum of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But despite that, it has plenty of stuff for those interested in the Oscars.
In addition to royal statuettes from each decade, thank you speeches are projected on the walls in a gallery that guides visitors through the history of the Oscars. They include the one Steven Spielberg gave in 1994 after winning his first best director Oscar for “Schindler’s List.” “I swear I have never had one in my hands,” says Spielberg of his statuette.
Visitors can experience that feeling in “The Oscars Experience,” which allows them to enter a simulation to give an appreciation speech at the Dolby Theater.
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Finally !: The Museum of the Film Academy opens