Academy Museum rolls out virtual carpet

| April 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

OSCARS®, OF COURSE, will be on display at the new Academy Museum.

While the Academy Museum nears its in-person opening, coming this fall on September 30, a star-studded virtual presentation of the space took place last month.

Museum director and president Bill Kramer was joined by a host of Oscar winners during the 45-minute pre-recorded video tour for the media.

Almost a century in the making, when it finally opens “it is set to be the world’s premiere museum of motion pictures,” said Academy Museum trustee Laura Dern.

Movie buffs, however, need not wait until September.

Jacqueline Stewart, Academy Museum chief artistic and programming officer, announced a series of virtual programs to begin this month.

“We’ve been hard at work bringing visitors dynamic, diverse programming,” she said.

The series will be launched on the Academy Museum website leading up to the live broadcast of the Academy Awards April 25.

Kickoff April 22

Pre-opening museum programming will kick off with “Breaking the Oscar Ceiling” on April 22, hosted by museum Trustee Diane von Furstenberg and moderated by Stewart. The conversation will feature Sophia Loren, Whoopi Goldberg, Marlee Matlin and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Other pre-opening virtual programs, with times and dates to come, include the Conversations with the Artists series, which will feature the 2011 film, “Pariah,” and the 2001 film, “Y Tu Mamá También.”

The In Conversation series will feature discussions with writer / director Spike Lee and “Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.

Among the museum trustees and award winners at the media’s virtual rollout March 10 was Board of Trustees Co-Chair Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO of Netflix.

“Like many of you, I grew up as a movie lover,” he said. Yet, after moving to Los Angeles in 1998, he was disappointed it lacked a “mythical center for the film capital of the world…  Well, all of that is about to change.”

The 300,000-square foot, six-story museum at Fairfax Ave. and Wilshire Blvd. is housed in two buildings.

  The 1939, glittering-gold May Co., renamed the Saban, Building, has been fully restored. The Streamline Moderne landmark is connected by glass bridges to the dome-shaped Sphere Building, which houses the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater — suspended above the Walt Disney Company Piazza — and is topped on its roof by the Dolby Family Terrace with panoramic city views.

“We are making a museum in the center of Wilshire, and where the Miracle Mile starts,” said Pritzker Prize-winning architect and designer of the museum, Renzo Piano. (From an historic point of view, Miracle Mile started at the La Brea end when developer A.W. Ross erected his first retail structure at the corner there in 1924.)

The new museum’s gallery space includes permanent and temporary exhibitions, with those spaces designed by Kulapat Yantrasast and his wHY Architecture studio. “Cinema and good design have always been a way to create empathy,” Yantrasast said on the tour.

Stories of Cinema

The museum’s permanent, core exhibition is titled “Stories of Cinema.” The exhibition spans three floors of the museum, beginning in the Saban Building’s lobby, in the Spielberg Family Gallery. This free exhibit will feature multiple screens telling the history of cinema from the Lumière brothers to the modern day.


Exhibit features within Stories of Cinema will include Rita Moreno — the first Latino actress to win an Oscar; her iconic role in “West Side Story” was not defined by stereotypes, said Moreno on the tour — and Danai Gurira, who played a warrior in “Black Panther.”

Gurira spoke of the elaborate beadwork and stitching of the African-inspired costumes in the film that will be on display. “[The exhibit] will take your breath away,” she said.

While much of Hollywood’s past did not acknowledge the medium’s diversity, this museum “gives me hope the future of Hollywood will,” Gurira added.

Stories of Cinema will also include galleries developed in collaboration with writer-directors Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar and composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.

“I want to see yellow school buses double-parked in front of the museum,” said Lee. “Maybe it sparks something in [the students], and they say, ‘Hey, you know what, I want to be a filmmaker.’”

Other galleries

The inaugural temporary exhibition, “Hayao Miyazaki,” the first museum retrospective in the Americas for the artist, will include 300 objects, including his original imageboards and large-scale film clips of his animated films. Installed in the museum’s Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery and designed as a journey, visitors will explore Miyazaki’s characters and imaginary worlds, including a Magical Tree installation, which represents a gateway to another world in many of his films.

Once the museum opens, programs will also include art-making workshops, such as Hayao Miyazaki Family Day.

Other galleries and their inaugural exhibitions are listed in the above sidebar.

“The Academy Museum is for everyone. Our programming will help to open eyes and minds,” Stewart said.


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