After years of planning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally opened the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in 2021. The museum is located in the Saban Building. It was originally built as the May Department Store and opened in 1939. The building is located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, and is across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum.
The main building contains the museum exhibits, while the newly constructed David Geffen Theater is located in the adjacent sphere.
The museum will consist of a series of changing exhibits focusing on the different aspects of film making. I visited the museum in May 2022 so my information and photos will refer to the exhibits from that time.
The Main Floor
The main floor contains the lobby, we well as a cafe and gift shop. This is where you pass through security and purchase your tickets.
The second floor contains the Stories of Cinema exhibit, which will probably be the main draw for most visitors. There are a number of different rooms to explore in this exhibit.
The first section includes a display about one of Hollywood’s classic movies, Citizen Kane, including the original Rosebud sled.
Next is a room dedicated to the work of director Spike Lee. This includes some awards as well as various items from his movies.
Following this is a large room dedicated to the movie The Wizard of Oz. The centerpiece of the room is a pair of Ruby Slippers. This pair is believed to be the ones worn when Dorothy clicks her heels together and says “There’s no place like home”.
This room also has a number of other artifacts from the movie. These include the Wicked Witch’s hat, the Cowardly Lion’s mask, a Munchkin costume, and the Tin Man’s oil can. There are also two of Dorothy’s dresses, one in colour and one in sepia used for black and white shots.
The following room is dedicated to the history of the Academy Awards. There are a series of screens around the room playing memorable moments from the Awards history. There are also a number of dresses on display, including ones worn by Cher and Rita Morena.
The final room has the Oscars Gallery, displaying a collection of trophies. You can see the statuettes up close, and see how they’ve changed slightly over the years. One display case is actually empty, and represents Hattie McDaniel’s win for Best Supporting Actress in 1940. Her statue was donated to Howard University, but has since been lost.
The second floor also contains the Netflix Lounge, which is a seating area with some power outlets to charge your devices.
The 3rd Floor
The museum’s third floor contains more of the Stories of Cinema exhibit. The first portion contains a tribute to animation, including some original sketches and artist’s drawing boards.
The next section contains a variety of costumes, props, and prosthetics from various movies. These include Star Wars, Edward Scissorhands, ET, and The Terminator.
The 4th Floor
The fourth floor contains a temporary exhibit about Hayao Miyazaki. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit this exhibit. This level also contains the Pixar Toy Story 3D Zoetrope. A zoetrope was an early version of animation, which contained a series of images, which would be turned to create the illusion of movement. This is similar to how children create flip-books. This particular zoetrope contains detailed figurines as opposed to 2D images.
Here is a video I took of the zoetrope. Unfortunately the strobe lighting effect made the video look a bit distorted, but it will still give you a good idea.
Overall, the Academy Museum is well worth a visit. I would suggest keeping an eye on their website for upcoming exhibits, as there may be some of particular interest. I was told that once the Wizard of Oz exhibit ends, it will be replaced by The Godfather.