Academy Museum in Los Angeles is slated to open in late September
Hollywood is heading for the Oscars – the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced on Monday. Another prestige object of the film academy is pushing into the limelight: the countdown for the frequently postponed opening of the Academy Museum has started. Now the museum management invited to a preview, because of Corona the virtual tour remained. But it should be opened on September 30th.
The virtual tour offered star power and a first look behind the scenes of the huge collection of films, costumes and iconic props from cinema history. “Jurassic Park” actress Laura Dern got in the mood for the digital experience as a “tour guide”. She is so excited to introduce this world-leading museum of cinematic art.
Oscar winner Spike Lee also spoke up. His collection of beloved pieces that have shaped his work is now coming to the museum. Above all, he wants to get school children excited about the world of film, says the director. Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro gave a taste of his fantasy creatures, to which the museum will dedicate an exhibition.
In a gallery named after Steven Spielberg, scenes from over 700 films from all over the world are shown on ten monitors. You will also meet Bruce, a shark dummy from the horror shocker “The Great White Shark”, in the Academy Museum. With a length of more than eight meters, it is the largest object in the collection.
It is a long-cherished dream and long overdue that the film city of Los Angeles will finally get its first film museum, says museum director Bill Kramer. In 2012 the plans for the ambitious building by the Italian star architect Renzo Piano were announced. The story of the film is to be celebrated on almost 28,000 square meters, spread over seven floors and a futuristic dome building. The costs shot up to over 480 million dollars, the opening was delayed again and again, most recently due to Corona it was postponed from April to the end of September.
“We want to be optimistic that the vaccination will go so well by then that we can finally open it, finally!” Says the curator Jessica Niebel in an interview with the dpa. The German, who worked at the Frankfurt Film Museum before moving to Los Angeles in 2016, is in charge of the museum’s opening exhibition on the work of the Japanese master cartoonist Hayao Miyazaki. The 80-year-old is world-famous for films like “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Spirited Away”. Niebel hopes that the celebrated director will travel to the first retrospective of his work.
The curator can also draw positive conclusions from the delayed inauguration of the museum. “We live in a time when so much is changing in the cultural and social discourse and our museum now has the chance to react,” says Niebel, referring to topics such as diversity and racism.
The museum management announced that the “less proud” moments in film history should also be highlighted in this way. For example the Academy Awards in 1940, when Hattie McDaniel became the first African American woman to win an Oscar with her supporting role in the southern epic “Gone with the Wind”. At the award ceremony, however, she was not allowed to sit at a table with the team because of her skin color, but had been banished to the back of the room.
Special effects, costumes, sound and music – the museum wants to deal with all aspects of film art. One gallery, for example, shows the work of the Icelandic cellist and composer Hildur Guonadottir, who won an Oscar for her “Joker” music. How to step onto the Oscar stage at the Dolby Theater can be re-enacted in the exhibition “The Oscars Experience”.
For Niebel one of the iconic highlights is the round spaceship Aries 1B from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (“2001: A Space Odyssey”). The curator is pleased that the rare prop from the filming of the space classic from 1968 looks “simply great” after the restoration.
Stars like Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand and George Lucas, but also film studios, foundations and companies donated millions for the construction. One of the glass bridges that connects the elegant old building on Wilshire Boulevard with a bold, gigantic sphere made of glass, steel and concrete is named after Streisand as a thank you. In the belly of the sphere is the David Geffen open-plan cinema with 1000 seats, above it a huge terrace from which you can look at the famous Hollywood sign.
Niebel not only admires the millions in donations, but also the time and energy that big stars put into the project. “Tom Hanks and Annette Bening, for example, were always ready if you asked them if you could help us. The Academy Museum is really close to their hearts.”
After the shutdown of the cultural world during the Corona crisis, the curator expects a lot of visitors when the museum opens to visitors in autumn. But there is also a lot on offer virtually. The digital experiences have been further developed through the pandemic. “The museum can expand internationally and reach people who can never come here,” says Niebel.
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