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  • Carrie Specht

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Announces its Inaugural Exhibitions


The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has announced the details about the inaugural exhibitions that will be on view when the Museum opens in late 2019. The institution will be the first of its kind with a scope and scale never seen before. Devoted to the past, present, and future of cinema, the Academy Museum will open with a long-term exhibition that explores the evolution of film from its beginnings to its possible future. This is the beginning of something every cinepfile will love and adore. And I am one of those people.

The Museum is located inside the iconic Saban Building (formerly known as the May Company building) will also showcase temporary installations The first one of these is all about the esteemed Japanese animator, Hayao Miyazaki. And later, in the Fall of 2020, the Academy Museum will host Regeneration: Black Cinema 1900–1970. This project will explore the influence of African Americans in the motion picture industry from the advent of the medium to just beyond the Civil Rights era. These exhibitions and programs are intended to convey the emotional and imaginative power of film, offering a look behind the screen into how movies evolved and are made, exploring the impact of cinema on our society and the culture at large, and to ensure film’s legacy as the great art form of modern times. This involves bringing together evocative settings, key objects from the Academy’s unparalleled collections and the growing collection of the Museum itself.

The journey begins in the Spielberg Family Gallery, located in the Grand Lobby, with the installation Making of: The Wizard of Oz, with a focus on the film's groundbreaking effects, glorious Technicolor world, and the exquisite voice of Judy Garland. It is here that Dorothy’s famed ruby slippers (from the Museum’s collection) will be found. From there visitors ascend to the Wanda Gallery on the second floor, where they will emerge into a dramatic Magic and Motion gallery, which evokes the age of innovation and wonder in the 19th century.

The Lumière and Méliès gallery introduces the interplay in cinema between realism and fantasy as seen in the work of the early innovators. The public will view some of the earliest films ever projected, from the Lumière brothers, who astonished audiences all over the world, to the mesmerizing “trick” films a of stage-magician-turned-filmmaker, Méliès. These are artists who saw the limitless potential of cinematic imagination even as the medium was still in its infancy.

The Story Films gallery will demonstrate how filmmakers around the world quickly developed camera and editing techniques, which unleashed the new medium’s potential to tell stories. Here there will be examples of the first dramas, comedies, adventures, and other genres, as well as the first animated short films. Next is the Light and Shadow gallery, which features sequences from the heyday of international silent film, revealing how inventive production design, acting styles, cinematographic effects, and lighting techniques brought mood, atmosphere, and emotion to cinema. All of which elevated once side show gimmick to an art form that ultimately entrance audiences around the world.

In the Modern Times section, is an examination of the rise of Hollywood with powerful stars like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. Modern Times leads visitors to the largest of the second-floor galleries, The Studio System from its emergence to its eventual decline in the 1960s. Here, objects from the Academy’s collection, such as a backdrop from Singin’ in the Rain (1952), the doors to Rick’s Café Américain from Casablanca (1942), and the typewriter used to write Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), will bring to life the movies of the time. Visitors will journey through the studio to explore the artistry and also the challenges of Hollywood during its “golden age.” Here, people will find closer looks at the dancing talents of Fred Astaire, the Nicholas Brothers, and Rita Moreno, the dramatic presence of Humphrey Bogart, Gregory Peck, and Sidney Poitier, and icons of the screen like Greta Garbo, Dolores del Rio, and Marilyn Monroe.

Visitors then move to the Museum’s third floor Rolex Gallery, where they will enter into the Real World. This space will reveal how filmmakers became more and more adaptable, with lighter-weight and more widely available equipment. There will be examples of how filmmakers everywhere took to the streets to capture the version of reality on screen. After this is the examination of the rapid growth of independent cinema and the individual expression that characterized movements from Italian Neorealism and French New Wave to Indian Parallel Cinema and Brazilian Cinema Novo. Audiences will actually hear from the filmmakers themselves how they pushed the boundaries of filmmaking to make the impossible possible.

An endeavor of this scope requires a multi-disciplinary creative team including a Deputy Director of Creative Content and Programming, an Oscar-winning production designer, a curatorial staff, a Film Program Coordinator, staff from the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, Academy governors and members, the Museum’s advisory committee, and a range of film scholars and filmmakers. All of these specialists are bringing their expertise to the project in order to realize the design and installations.

If that's not devotion to the great American art form, I don't know what is. Frankly, I can't wait for the doors to open. And I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for when tickets eventually go on sale. Maybe I'll see you in line. No doubt, I'll be joined by hundreds on that magial day.

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