×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Academy Brings Architect Renzo Piano to N.Y. to Tout Movie Museum Plans

Ninety years after Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford first floated the idea of creating a museum for the movie business, the completion of Hollywood’s first major movie museum is finally nearing. Architect Renzo Piano and officials from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences traveled to Manhattan Monday to preview the project for East Coast press.

After fits and starts, funding headaches and clashing visions, the 300,000-square-foot Academy Museum will open in mid-2019. Its backers, AMPAS, better known as the group that hands the Oscars, promise that the museum will be an immersive experience that will feature everything from screenings to talks to props and items from iconic movies.

“It’s much more than a museum,” said Academy Museum director Kerry Brougher at the Plaza Hotel. “It’s a hub for film lovers…to come and experience film in different ways.”

The museum will cost in excess of $250 million and will consist of two structures. One is the historic Miracle Mile May Co. department store that has been retrofitted with exhibition space, a restaurant, and screening room. The other, a sphere-like building that looks like a more inviting Death Star, will boast a 1,000-seat theater that the Academy says will be among the finest in the world — capable of showing everything from silent films to 3D features.

“We’re going to look at film’s past, but we also want to look at where film is going,” said Brougher.

To that end, the museum’s collection consists of more than 12 million photographs, 190,000 film and video assets, 80,000 screenplays, 61,000 posters, and 104,000 pieces of production art. In recent years, the group has put a particular emphasis on collecting memorabilia and historic items. Highlights include a gorilla soldier head from “Planet of the Apes,” Harpo Marx’s wig, Jack Nicholson’s striped suit from “Chinatown,” the doors to Rick’s Cafe from “Casablanca,” and the tablets from “The Ten Commandments.”

“I don’t know if I can call this a museum or not,” said Piano, the superstar architect who is overseeing the project. “In some ways this is a museum. In some ways this is a factory.”

Piano, whose other works include the Centre Pompidou and the Morgan Library extension, said he was inspired by film’s interplay between light and darkness when it came to designing his new commission. He described the two buildings, which will be separated by glass-encased walkways, as flirting with each other. He also heaped praise on the medium, calling film the “only contemporary art form” and saying that “cinema is the best way to tell a story.”

The luncheon was intended to highlight the museum’s progress to New York press. It was held in the Oak Room, a posh eatery that has been showcased in such movies as “North by Northwest” and “The Post.” Guests dined on fennel-encrusted salmon and pistachio cake while heavy rain pounded against the hotel’s windows.

“If we were having this in L.A. there’d be about three people in the room,” said Brougher, a reference to the sun-soaked city’s intense fear of precipitation.

The Academy also used the event to announce that “Dunkirk” producer Emma Thomas and East West Bank Chairman Dominic Ng will join the museum’s board of trustees. The group is chaired by NBCUniversal vice-chairman Ron Meyer and also includes such Hollywood heavyweights as Annette Bening, Tom Hanks, Disney chief Bob Iger, and Paramount Pictures head Jim Gianopulos.

Piano and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson both noted that Los Angeles, the film capital of the world, has long needed to have a temple to its greatest export. Brougher, who previously worked at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum, had a different take on the long-gestating project.

“90 years by government standards is actually pretty fast,” he said.

More Film

  • Spirit Awards Showcase Oscar Players and

    Spirit Awards Showcase Oscar Players and Also-Rans, With Heavy Hitters on Deck

    Five of the last eight best feature winners at the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards have gone on to win best picture at the Oscars, including a four-year streak from 2013-2016. It was a steadily evolving status quo that led former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences governor Bill Mechanic to question his organization’s [...]

  • Bo Burnham34th Film Independent Spirit Awards,

    Bo Burnham Wants 'Eighth Grade' Star Elsie Fisher to Direct Him

    Bo Burnham won his third award in three weeks for “Eighth Grade” at the Spirit Awards and said he wants the film’s 15-year-old Elsie Fisher to direct him. “I’d love to work with Elsie again,” Burnham said backstage after winning the Best First Screenplay trophy.  “She wants to direct so I’d love to switch roles [...]

  • Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive

    Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Director Was Cheated Out of an Oscar Nomination

    “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” screenwriter Nicole Holofcener offered a blunt assessment of the lack of Academy Awards recognition for director Marielle Heller, and women directors everywhere. “I feel Marielle was cheated and I feel badly about that,” Holofcener said backstage after winning a Spirit Award for screenplay with Jeff Whitty. Holofcener was originally attached [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List

    The 2019 Independent Spirit Awards took place on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif., with Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” taking the top prize for best feature along with best director for Jenkins. Ethan Hawke and Glenn Close took the prizes for best male lead and best female lead, respectively. Bo Burnham took [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Hated It! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Gripe About the Oscars

    Watching the Academy Awards telecast, then grousing about it the next day, has become a hipster parlor game — it’s what the Complete Oscar Experience now is. The complaints are legion, and we all know what they are, because we’ve all made them. The show was too long. The host bombed. His or her opening [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content