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Yes, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Is Finally Opening in Los Angeles

By Sarah Buder

Feb 12, 2020

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The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set to open in Los Angeles on December 14, 2020.

©Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©Academy Museum Foundation/Image from L’Autre Image 

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set to open in Los Angeles on December 14, 2020.

The long-awaited museum dedicated to all things cinema will debut this December in the “movie capital of the world,” with views of the nearby Hollywood hills.

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Eight years after it was first announced, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is finally set to debut in Los Angeles. The official opening date—December 14, 2020—was declared during the live telecast of this year’s 92nd Academy Awards by actor Tom Hanks, a trustee and cochair of the Academy Museum. Because . . . how else? 

After noting that Los Angeles has hosted a selfie museum, but that “there has never been a museum dedicated to the art and science of motion pictures” in the city with such close ties to cinema, Hanks shared the news of the upcoming museum’s debut, stating: “It’s going to be a very big deal.” 

The 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, will hold daily screenings and major film events inside the museum.

The six-floor museum was initially scheduled to open in 2017 but faced multiple setbacks, including a skyrocketing budget that’s now around $388 million. When it opens at long last in the former May Company Building (now the Saban Building) on Wilshire Boulevard, the Academy Museum will be what organizers call “the world’s premiere institution devoted to exploring the art and science of movies and moviemaking.” 

Located in Los Angeles’s Miracle Mile district near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the renovated and expanded building will feature multiple gallery and event spaces, a state-of-the-art education studio, and two film and performance theaters, including a 1,000-seat domed theater designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, where daily screenings and major film events will be held. 

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Inside the museum, organizers say, motion picture–focused exhibitions will “give visitors an unprecedented opportunity to peer behind the screen and into the world of moviemaking through the lens of those who make them.” Permanent and rotating displays will pull from the Academy Museum’s holdings of approximately 2,500 items relevant to early and modern motion picture technology, costume and production design, makeup and hairstyling, and more. According to a press release, the museum will also draw from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’s impressive collection, which includes more than 12 million photographs; 190,000 film and video assets; 80,000 screenplays; 61,000 posters; and 104,000 pieces of production art sourced from the archives of film legends such as Katharine Hepburn and Alfred Hitchcock.   

The Academy Museum’s galleries will showcase artifacts such as the pair of ruby slippers designed by Adrian Adolph Greenburg for the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

Visitors to the Academy Museum can expect to see film-related artifacts such as Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939) and the only surviving full-size shark model from the original mold used in Jaws (1975). Displays will also showcase a variety of early and modern filmmaking equipment, such as the original “Steadicam” camera stabilizer invented by Garrett Brown, which was first used to film Bound for Glory (1976).

Accessories from popular films known for their distinctive costumes, such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1992) and Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) will also be part of various exhibitions. Additionally, the press release states that a number of Academy Award statuettes donated back to the Academy by Oscar winners and their heirs will be on view for museumgoers, among them the miniature Oscar presented to Shirley Temple at the 1934 Academy Awards.

The Juvenile Oscar® awarded to Shirley Temple in 1934, gifted by Shirley Temple Black and Family in 2013, will be among the museum artifacts on display.

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After the Academy Museum opens this December, the new Los Angeles institution will also feature temporary rotating exhibitions, starting with a retrospective on Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animation titan behind films such as Spirited Away (2001) and The Wind Rises (2013), which the museum claims is the first of its kind of the United States.

Similar to how the release of a major motion picture is preceeded months in advance by a brief trailer, the remaining details about the Academy Museum are, for now, under wraps. Hours and ticket prices for the Academy Museum have yet to be announced, although the website says, just as film previews do, that the full attraction is “coming soon.”

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ Dolby Family Terrace will showcase views of the nearby Hollywood hills.

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