Los Angeles Welcomes a New Museum Dedicated to the History of Motion Pictures
Movies have had a monumental impact on the attractions industry, from popular intellectual properties incorporated into theme park rides to iconic film characters meeting guests and posing for photo ops. Now, the center of the moviemaking universe, Los Angeles, has opened The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a vast exhibition dedicated to movies and film culture.
“The Academy has been planning to build a film museum for almost a century,” said Bill Kramer, director and president of the Academy Museum, during the Sept. 30, 2021, opening of the museum, “and this iteration of the project took 10 years. We started in 2011, and we could not be more thrilled with the finished product.”
The seven-story, 300,000-square-foot museum draws on the resources of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, best known for annually selecting recipients of the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. The museum is the largest film culture museum in North America.
The core exhibition is the “Stories of Cinema,” covering 30,000 square feet and providing celebratory, critical, and personal perspectives on the disciplines involved in moviemaking and its impact, both past and present.
“The Path to Cinema: Highlights from the Richard Balzer Collection” offers selections from the world’s foremost holdings of precinematic optical toys and devices. On display are more than 9,000 objects, including magic lanterns, magic lantern glass slides, peepshows, shadow puppets, paintings, figurines, and more, dating as far back as China’s Ming Dynasty. The collection of showman and collector Richard Balzer traces the development of motion pictures.
In the museum’s East West Bank Gallery is “The Oscars Experience,” an immersive simulation that allows visitors to imaginatively step onto the stage of the Dolby Theatre, the longtime venue of the Academy Awards ceremony, to accept an Oscar.
The museum also houses the new 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater. The theaters opened with a special presentation of the 1939 cinematic classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” which was accompanied in the larger theater by a musical performance from the American Youth Symphony, conducted by Oscar nominee David Newman. The two theaters will present a roster of screenings, including “Oscar Sun-days” and “Family Matinees.”
The 2,600-square-foot Academy Museum Store will feature Oscar memorabilia and other film-related items, plus merchandise designed and produced exclusively for the store.
Museum admission is $25 for adults, $19 for seniors, and free for children under the age of 18. “The Oscars Experience” is an additional $15.