Move advances plan for long-awaited institution

Heather Cochran and Bill Kramer have been named managing directors of the Academy Museum of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, following a six-month flurry of museum-related momentum that’s building toward what could be the Acad’s biggest consumer-facing venture besides the Oscars.

Cochran, who’s been coordinating museum efforts since joining the Academy in 2004, will help manage and execute the overall vision as managing director, Academy museum project; Kramer will oversee capital campaign and future fund-raising efforts as managing director, development. Both report directly to Dawn Hudson.

“With Heather and Bill in place, the Academy is poised to move the museum to the next phase and beyond,” said Hudson in the Wednesday announcement. “Each brings a wealth of experience that will be critical as the museum project continues to gather momentum.”

Although Cochran conceded that the ambitious project is a bit of a moving target, the museum is slated to open in 2016. “We have a project schedule, but some of it will depend on how soon we reach certain milestones,” she told Variety on Wednesday afternoon.

In October, AMPAS unveiled a partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to lease the former May Co. building in the Miracle Mile District for the movie museum. Then in December, the org appointed Walt Disney Co. prexy-CEO Bob Iger as fund-raising chairman and Annette Bening and Tom Hanks as co-chairs, demonstrating that the plan was moving forward even amid the crush of awards season.

Although no official fund-raising events have been scheduled yet, sources tell Variety that coin is already coming in. It’s been rumored that Iger will have a target of well over $100 million, a formidable sum even in sunnier economic times; the Academy has also committed a $50 million endowment, Acad prexy Tom Sherak said.

There was some speculation that the Academy would tap into LACMA’s fund-raising savvy through their partnership, but Kramer says AMPAS is leading the capital-raising charge. “We have a great relationship with LACMA, but this is sitting entirely on the Academy’s plate,” Kramer said.

Kramer added that for about the next six months, the Academy will be in what he characterizes as the “silent phase” of the fund-raising campaign, during which the museum will work with supporters, governors and members to raise about 60% of the required funds. “After that we’ll be much more vocal about the fund-raising. We’ll create a series of events for the public,” he said.

Last month AMPAS purchased a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” its first major acquisition for the museum. Leonardo DiCaprio led a group of “angel donors” whose gifts to the Academy Foundation enabled the purchase.

Cochran said the ruby slippers were just one of the many “three-dimensional acquisitions” the Academy is looking to make for the museum. During her tenure Cochran has also worked closely with the Margaret Herrick Library, where the vast majority of the Academy’s paper collection resides. She said the library’s staff will help determine what fits into the museum plan because they have the detailed knowledge about the existing collection.

AMPAS has been planning the museum for decades and even got as far as purchasing 3 1/2 acres in Hollywood in 2005 and consulting an architect. However, planners abandoned that idea after the economy soured, making it impossible to raise the funds needed to build a whole new facility. The buildings on the Pickford Center-adjacent land have been razed. AMPAS has plans to create a 17,000-square-foot amphitheater there as a venue for classic movies.

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