After more than 90 years and two opening-date postponements due to COVID-19, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is finally opening on September 30. Located on Fairfax and Wilshire, the seven-story museum was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano and includes the Saban Building, otherwise known as the landmark 1939 May Company Building. The entire campus features 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, plus a restaurant, store, and two separate theaters: the David Geffen Theater and smaller Ted Mann Theater. Also of note is the 45,000 square-foot Sphere Building and the Dolby Family Terrace, offering expansive views of the City of Angels.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures includes the “Stories of Cinema” exhibition, which features an area devoted to the making of “Wizard of Oz” (1939), complete with ruby slippers. Another inaugural exhibition is the premier North American museum retrospective dedicated to Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Meanwhile, for those interested in early moving-image technology, “The Path to Cinema: Highlights from the Richard Balzer Collection” has an impressive collection of Magic Lantern slides and devices predating Hollywood’s moving-image technology.
The museum doesn’t shy away from addressing important issues such as systemic racism in film and crimes perpetrated against Native Americans, something that’s visible in “Backdrop: An Invisible Art,” an exhibit that features a massive painting of Mount Rushmore (itself on a site that was stolen from the Lakota Sioux), which figures prominently in “North by Northwest” (1959). Finally, for anyone who wants a taste of what it’s like to accept an Academy Award, The Oscars® Experience offers an opportunity to experience just that.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be hosting many screenings and future exhibits. General admission tickets to the museum cost $25 per adult. A free community celebration takes place on Sunday, October 17 from 10am–6pm.