In 1929, one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences proposed the idea of a museum dedicated to moving images. Ninety years later, that dream is finally becoming a reality with the Academy Museum, which takes over the iconic May Company at Wilshire and Fairfax. While the museum's not going to be open for another year or so, on Tuesday officials revealed plans for the 300,000-square-foot space, which extends beyond the May Company building to the Sphere Building and features a new 1,000-seat theater as well as a smaller 288-seat theater. But the focus will remain the museum itself, which already has plans for its inaugural exhibitions, both long-term and temporary.
Upon entering the Grand Lobby of the Academy Museum, visitors will pass through “Making of: The Wizard of Oz,” an installation honoring the 1939 classic, which, incidentally, hit the big screen the same year the May Company building opened to the public. Through scripts, production sketches and hair and makeup tests, people will have the chance to see just how The Wizard of Oz was created. They'll get to see Dorothy's ruby slippers, too.
From there, guests will be immersed in a comprehensive history of the film industry in an exhibition with the working title “Where Dreams Are Made: A Journey Inside the Movies.” It all begins with a gallery dedicated to early film technology, followed by installations focusing on early films. Then comes a sweeping display of the inner workings of the studio system from 1927 to the 1960s, which features items from the Academy's collection such as sets from Casablanca (1942) and Singin’ in the Rain (1952), along with Alfred Hitchcock’s typewriter. The exhibit continues with a gallery dedicated to the rise of independent film, and winds down with an installation around Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). From there, people will learn more about the history of the Academy Awards and get a taste of the experience themselves.
Initial temporary exhibitions at the Academy Museum will include a major retrospective tribute to Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. Next up will be “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900-1970,” which examines the history of African-Americans in films. Finally, the museum's 34-foot-high project space debuts with an exhibit from Tokyo-based interdisciplinary art collective teamLab.
“The Academy Museum is the realization of a long-held Academy dream to preserve movie history and to bring it into the lives of filmmakers, scholars, young people and the worldwide public,” said John Bailey, president of the Academy’s Board of Governors. “The great resources and dedicated work of the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive provide a foundation for the museum’s extraordinary installations and changing exhibitions. This museum, created and supported by working filmmakers, will present the story of the movies in ways beyond what a traditional historical film museum can offer.”