Everyone remembers the first time they watched Dorothy, Scarecrow, The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion and Toto follow the yellow brick road to the Land of Oz. Or the first time they witnessed a massive shark terrorize a Long Island beach. Or even the first time they heard Darth Vader utter those five famous words to Luke Skywalker. The magic behind the silver-screen goes beyond entertainment. Movies transport viewers away from their reality and into a fantasy. The new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures strives to capture this movie magic.
Film fanatics have watched the progression of the state-of-the-art museum for the past seven years. Every so often, the Academy issues updates regarding the museum’s construction details, premiere exhibits, innovative features and extensive funding. The monumental project is quite the undertaking, and, although it’s yet to make its highly anticipated premiere, there’s still some information out there about this world-class gallery.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.
Artifacts and Technology and Projections, Oh My!
So, what even is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures? The museum’s director, Kerry Brougher, and other museum spokespeople have told various media outlets what guests can expect. (Sadly, as of August 5, Brougher stepped down from his position after serving as the director of the Academy Museum for five years.)
“When we set out to do this museum, one of the first things that we said was that this can’t be a museum of just artifacts or just works on paper or posters,” Brougher said in an interview with TCM. “We have to bring those things back to life again.”
The Academy plans to recreate some of the most iconic scenes in film history by using advanced technology within the exhibits.
“There will be a lot of movie image material itself, projections, almost installations in fact, so [the experience] can be understood both through the artifacts and the moving image,” Brougher told TCM.
According to the Academy, the museum will include film-related props, scripts, screenplays and novelties from their own collection. Some of the authentic artifacts that will be on display are Shirley Temple’s tap shoes from the film “Little Colonel,” the typewriter used to write the screenplay for “Psycho” and an annotated script of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
Where else would this lavish museum devoted solely to films be located than the movie capital of the world: Los Angeles. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the museum resides where the original 1939 May Co. building stood in Los Angeles’ busy retail district, the Miracle Mile. The Academy renamed the structure the Saban Building after Haim Saban, a media proprietor who donated $50 million.
Visiting the museum won’t be a quick trip through a few rooms filled with movie memorabilia. The museum will include 300,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 1,500-panel glass dome overlooking Hollywood.
The museum has many stories, including a lobby, core exhibition, Oscars Experience, temporary exhibitions and special events. Attached to the museum are a theater and a terrace with the glass dome.
Back to the Exhibits
Brougher recently announced the museum’s three inaugural exhibitions. The Academy plans to design a long-term exhibit called “Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies,” and this working title says it all. Occupying two floors of the Saban Building, this ultimate movie fan exhibit will encompass the evolution of film from its promising beginnings to its exciting future.
The first temporary exhibit will feature Japanese animator, filmmaker and screenwriter Hayao Miyazaki. With acclaimed animated films like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” Miyazaki garnered respect and a fan base in Western countries. In collaboration with his production company, Studio Ghibli, the museum will showcase Miyazaki’s impact on Japanese animation in the United States.
The next short-term exhibit will explore African Americans in film. Titled “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900–1970,” this spectacle will present the vital yet under-appreciated history behind African American filmmakers who helped develop American cinema. The exhibit will also feature African American representation in movies from the early 20th century to the Civil Rights era.
“The Trustees and I are tremendously proud to see how the exhibitions of the Academy Museum are coming together,” Ron Meyer, chairman of the board of the Academy Museum, said. “Thanks to the extraordinary creative team [Brougher] has assembled, these experiences are going to be beautiful and engaging, thoughtful and surprising.”
2020: A Museum Odyssey
The Academy first announced its plans to create the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures back in 2012. The initial grand opening date was originally scheduled for 2017, but due to unexpected construction challenges, there have been several postponements. After all, transforming a 1939 building into a modern-day technological masterpiece is not an easy feat.
That being said, construction didn’t officially start until the summer of 2015. Designing this behemoth museum is Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano.
“Renzo’s design embodies the museum’s mission: Just as it links the past and present by connecting the May Company building with the new sphere, our exhibitions and programs will explore the history and future of cinema,” Brougher said in 2015.
If all goes according to plan, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures plans to open its doors to movie enthusiasts following the 2020 Academy Awards.
“The Academy Museum’s intention is to create a unique and unparalleled museum experience,” a spokesperson told Deadline.
The spokesperson went on to say that the Academy wanted to take advantage of any opportunities to expand the size of their exhibitions and the number of movie artifacts in their collection.
“At every decision point along the way, we have always chosen the path that would enhance the structure, even if that meant construction would take more time to complete.”
We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Check
When the Academy planned to build its extravagant museum, the estimated total cost was $250 million. Now, after an additional three years of construction, the price sits at $388 million.
So far, the Academy has raised over 80% of the funds through generous donations. Some notable donors include representatives from Netflix, the Charles V. Roven Family Foundation and the Thomas Spiegel Family Foundation.
Netflix’s name will be displayed in the Gallery Terrace on the second floor, and the Charles V. Roven Family and the Thomas Spiegel Family will both be featured on the fifth floor Terrace. Other donors who’ve made donations to the museum while also acquiring name spaces are Steven Spielberg, The Walt Disney Company and Dolby Laboratories.
Bloomberg Philanthropies also gifted generous funds for the museum’s digital engagement sections through its Bloomberg Connects program.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is sure to impress film enthusiasts and bring joy to spectators in 2020.