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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Postpones Opening Date

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Already 90 years in the making, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures at Wilshire and Fairfax was scheduled to open on December 14 of this year. However, with the advent of COVID-19, the museum's long-awaited debut has been pushed back even further. More than five years after construction first commenced in October of 2015, the Academy Museum's new opening date of April 30, 2021 is timed to coincide with the 93rd Oscars® ceremony, which itself has been postponed nearly two months from its initially scheduled air date of February 28 to April 25, 2021.

"With the unprecedented and devastating pandemic happening around the world and our commitment first and foremost to the health and safety of our visitors and staff, we have made the difficult decision to wait a few more months to open our doors," said Bill Kramer, director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in a statement. "Thankfully, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, exhibitions continue to be installed. We look forward to April 2021 when Los Angeles and the world will be able to join together as the Academy celebrates the Oscars and the opening of its long-dreamed-of Museum.”

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Exterior Rendering ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Academy Museum Foundation | Image from L’Autre Image
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Exterior Rendering ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Academy Museum Foundation | Image from L’Autre Image

Located at 6067 Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Miracle Mile's Museum Row, the 300,000 square-foot Academy Museum of Motion Pictures encompasses the iconic 1939 May Company Building (now the Saban Building), whose gold-toned, cylinder-shaped Streamline Moderne façade was designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1992. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the six-story museum will feature 50,000 square feet of exhibition space along with the Shirley Temple Education Studio and two separate theaters: the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the comparatively smaller 288-seat Ted Mann Theater. The Barbra Streisand Bridge will take museumgoers from inside the museum and onto the majesty of the signature Dolby Family Terrace, located in the new 45,000 square-foot orb-shaped Sphere Building. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will include numerous event spaces, a yet-to-be-named restaurant, and a street-facing gift shop. 

Introduction to "Stories of Cinema" in the Spielberg Family Gallery, located in the Academy Museum's Grand Lobby. ©Academy Museum Foundation | Image by wHY architecture
Introduction to "Stories of Cinema" in the Spielberg Family Gallery, located in the Academy Museum's Grand Lobby. ©Academy Museum Foundation | Image by wHY architecture

While the museum's architecture is certainly impressive, it's what's inside that makes it a star attraction. Since it first began acquiring items back in 2008, the Academy Museum has amassed around 5,000 objects from the moviemaking field. Highlights include film equipment such as a Bell & Howell camera belonging to silent film star Mary Pickford as well as the original Steadicam from 1974. There are also several objects related to production design, including the stone tablets from “The Ten Commandments” (1956), a spaceship model from “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) and H.R. Giger's creature head from “Alien” (1979). And then there are the costumes, which include a headdress designed by Adrian for Greta Garbo in “Mata Hari” (1931), Humphrey Bogart's suit from “The Big Sleep” (1941) and the crown jewel of the entire wardrobe collection: the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939). More recent acquisitions include costumes worn by Bela Lugosi, Marlene Dietrich, Shirley Temple, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jack Nicholson, among many other stars of the silver screen. The Academy Museum's collection also includes a wealth of promo materials, memorabilia and awards, along with several makeup and hairstyling objects such as Harpo Marx's wig and maquillage as well as Grace Kelly's and Clark Gable's life masks. Additionally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be on hand to lend from the Academy Film Archive and the Margaret Herrick Library, which holds over 1,700 collections along with millions of photographs, clippings, and books, periodicals, screenplays, posters, artwork and more.

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Many of the museum's holdings will come together for the inaugural exhibition, "Stories of Cinema," which will include collaborations with filmmakers Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar, as well as composer Hildur Guðnadóttir and sound designer Ben Burtt. Guests will also have the opportunity to view a multi-camera rig from “The Matrix” (1999) and get a sense of what it's like to walk on stage to accept an Academy Award in something called the “Oscars Experience.” Meanwhile, "The Path to Cinema" in the special collections gallery should give guests a sense of what it was like to work in the early days of the burgeoning film industry. Finally, the museum's first temporary exhibit will be the country's premier retrospective devoted to Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (“My Neighbor Totoro” [1988] and “Spirited Away” [2001].) It will be followed by the upcoming exhibit, "Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971."

Construction of Academy Museum of Motion Picture | Joshua White, JWPictures/©Academy Museum Foundation
Construction of Academy Museum of Motion Picture | Joshua White, JWPictures/©Academy Museum Foundation

For all those who want an up-close-and-personal look at the film industry, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is expected to serve as an immersive, all-encompassing tribute to our city's legacy as the film capital of the world. In the words of Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, "The dream of this museum will finally become a reality — a gathering place for filmmakers and movie fans from around the world, where we can share the Oscars legacy and further fulfill the Academy's mission to connect the world through cinema."

Top Image: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Dolby Family Terrace Rendering ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Academy Museum Foundation | Image from Cristiano Zaccari

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