Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is ready for its close-up



But on this day, icons aren’t just exhibits – Tom Hanks takes the stage at the museum’s David Geffen Theater, sharing with audiences the historical significance of this new institution, which is slated to open on September 30.

“It’s important for Los Angeles to have this museum,” said Tom Hanks as he addressed the media from the stage of the brand new David Geffen Theater, appropriately adorned with a red carpet. “We all know movies are made all over the world and they are wonderful movies … but with all due respect, a place like Los Angeles, created by the Motion Picture Academy, this museum really has to be. the Parthenon from such places. “

Hanks, along with Disney president Bob Iger and actor Annette Benning, led the fundraising campaign for the new museum – the entire project costing $ 482 million, according to the Academy.

“It’s bright, new and huge and it’s packed with approximately 125 years of life-changing ideas, dreams and cinematic experiences,” actress Anna Kendrick said at the opening press conference .

A museum under construction for nearly a century

Considering how Hollywood likes to celebrate its best and brightest, it might be a bit of a surprise that there hasn’t been a museum dedicated to filmmaking before.

In fact, the road to making the museum a reality has been a long one. The idea has been around for about as long as the Academy, founded in 1927. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the museum began to take shape. Almost a decade later, the opening was delayed by the pandemic. But the Académie museum is now ready to offer its immersive love letter to the profession of filmmaking.

“We are the only institution dedicated to talking about the exploration of the cinema arts and sciences,” said Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum. “We’re going to be spinning different stories through our main movie show stories.”

A combination of old and new, the museum occupies an expanded footprint of the former May Company department store on Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Now known as the Saban Building, it houses most of the collections and the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater. The all-new facility is capped by a 26 million pound concrete and glass sphere that spans 45,000 square feet and includes the 1,000-seat Geffen Theater. At the top, stretches the Dolby Family Terrace under a glass dome.

The spherical theater outside the museum.

Italian architect Renzo Piano, who designed the museum and is also the originator of The Shard in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, called the new installation “the most love story. unlikely … between the beautiful, kind and loving old lady – the May Company building – and a soap bubble. “

Noting how he played with light in designing the museum as an ode to cinema, Piano also claimed that architects are jealous of filmmakers.

“It’s all in a movie. Everything. It’s a story, action, light and shadows and music, photography – it’s all there. Light and shadow,” he said. . “Light and shadow are actually the essence of this project, of this building. It’s common in cinema.”


ET from the 1982 film

Visitors can browse many avenues from film production, from screenwriting, casting and costumes to sound mixing, animation and technological advancements. In the gallery of the composer’s Inspiration sound chamber, there is hardly any light except for a dark red emittance. Featuring the work of one film composer at a time, it is currently the kingdom of Hildur Guðnadóttir, which won the Oscar for Best Sheet Music for “Joker” of 2019. Here you are invited to yourselves lose in music.

Overall, the Academy Museum has what it calls the largest collection of cinema-related objects in the world, comprising more than 13 million photographs, 67,000 posters and 137,000 works of art.

Of course, the Academy Museum wouldn’t be complete without an Oscar on display. In fact, an entire room is devoted to Academy statuettes, including the one Sidney Poitier won for Best Actor for 1963’s “Lilies of the Field”, representing the first time a black actor has won in the category.

The whole history of cinema is not golden

The museum features Oscar statues and offers visitors a virtual opportunity to experience what it feels like walking through the Oscars stage.

This whole story doesn’t turn out well over time, but museum curators say they won’t back down from difficult topics.

“It’s a place to learn more about the history of cinema,” Kramer said, noting how uncomfortable subjects need to be explored in the museum. “Much of our past is not great – a lot of racism, oppression and sexism. So as we celebrate movies and art and film artists, we also want people to find a safe space to have more complicated conversations and create our new future together. “

Experts in their craft are heard with their own voices, explaining the production decisions of well-known films. A collection of actor screen tests are shown, followed by the same scene from the final production.

“Cinema is the ultimate collaborative art form,” Kramer said. “We want students … moviegoers to see themselves reflected in the museum and we want people to be inspired by careers in film.”

For some of that inspiration and what is sure to be a big draw at the museum, the Oscars experience allows visitors to see what it could be like to walk across the stage at the Dolby Theater and accept an Academy Award.

After all, great Hollywood stories always start with a dream.


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