Posted by: Audiegrl
It was Gertrude Stein who once said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” The same has often been said of Hollywood (both the place and the industry). There is no single place a visitor can go to get a real sense of its essence. The purpose of a museum dedicated to the filmmaking arts and sciences would be to put a “there” in Hollywood. To illuminate something of what we do and how we do it. Something of the sweat and something of the inspiration; something of the practical and something of the magic; to capitalize on the national and international love of filmed entertainment and promote an appreciation of, knowledge of, and respect for our work.
Diane Keaton and Woody Allen analyze a sculpture on display at MOMA in Manhattan (1979)
Our mission is to create a place to celebrate and explore how film has reflected and shaped world culture, and to help us all better understand what the movies have meant – and continue to mean – in our lives. Thirteen locations across Los Angeles were carefully assessed as potential sites on which to build our new institution. Ultimately, the Museum Committee felt that the museum was meant to live in Hollywood, a neighborhood synonymous with the film industry. The chosen site, adjacent to the Academy’s existing Pickford Center, allows for the creation of a sunny, eight-acre campus.
The museum will be open year-round and become a landmark attraction for Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area, a place for watching and learning about film and filmmaking, for exploring film’s relationship with the greater world and for listening to stories told by filmmakers themselves.
The museum’s public programs, lectures and hands-on exhibits will attract Los Angelenos, tourists, Academy members, film professionals, students and everyone in between. While people may be initially drawn in by the allure of Hollywood, we hope they will leave inspired and exhilarated, with a deeper appreciation for what movies have given them – characters they root for and sympathize with, glimpses into lives they wouldn’t have otherwise known, and stories that have shaped the American dream and our sense of national identity.
Sidney Poitier in the film classic 'To Sir With Love' (1967) with Lulu.
Who are our heroes and how have they changed over time? How have films depicted volatile issues like civil rights, religion, gender relations, poverty and war? How have they shaped our sense of masculinity, femininity and romance? How have Hollywood and Southern California affected the image of the United States, at home and abroad? Such are some of the topics the museum’s exhibits will explore, while allowing visitors to view films within the historical, cultural and technological contexts in which they were made.
But to see a film on screen is to see a finished product, not the creative process behind it. And so the Academy’s museum will also include spaces that explore the evolution of filmmaking. It will pull back the curtain, celebrating movie magic while allowing visitors a peek at how it is created. Each of the crafts will be illustrated in lucid, dazzling and unexpected ways, inviting visitors to explore often hidden worlds, whether that be a soundstage, an art department, a post-production studio or the Oscar® show itself. Visitors will be invited to sit in the director’s chair, costume a character, light a starlet, choose a location, cast a film, edit a trailer, score a movie, even walk the red carpet. They will come away with a better understanding of each craft, feeling that they have experienced cinematic creation themselves. It will forever change the way they watch movies.
Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)
The Academy’s museum will be a place of continuously changing exhibitions and programs of interest to residents as well as tourists. It will not rely solely on static objects and images, but will instead utilize interactive and experiential exhibitions, along with well-chosen memorabilia – “the bones of our saints
,” if you will. Premieres, foreign films, silent movies, retrospectives, tributes – the screening schedule in the museum’s state-of-the-art theater will be diverse and enticing, luring locals again and again and becoming one of the first things movie-loving tourists will check when planning trips to Southern California.
The Academy has collaborated with many different constituencies to determine the content of its museum exhibitions – from craftspeople in each branch, to historians, scholars and film critics, to staff at prominent museums around the country. The priorities are clear: to develop signature content, robust educational programs and exhibits that will attract both residents and tourists, all while providing a “red carpet” standard of visitor hospitality and service.
Years from now, we envision that the museum’s campus will be the hub of the vibrant neighborhood of Hollywood. Its collection, in concert with those of the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive, will continue to provide an important record of the evolution of filmmaking. The museum will be acknowledged as the best in the world on the subject, having become a “must-see” destination in the Los Angeles area and a major center for Academy members to gather and discuss, debate and share issues of importance to filmmaking – past, present and future.
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