The projectors are rolling. The ruby slippers are on. Many an Oscar sits glistening. The shark has been hanging, and waiting, for nearly a year.
Nine years after it was announced, four years after its first projected open date, and five months since its last planned launch date, the U.S. film academy’s museum is ready to open to the public on Sept 30.
“I’m very moved to be able to say to you, finally, at last, boy howdy hey, welcome to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” Tom Hanks told reporters Tuesday at a media preview of the Los Angeles building and its exhibits.
Hanks, a member of the board of trustees, led the fundraising for the project along with fellow actor Annette Bening and Walt Disney Co. executive chairman Bob Iger.
“We all know, films are made everywhere in the world, and they are wonderful films,” Hanks said. “And there are other cities with film museums, but with all due respect, created by the Motion Picture Academy, in Los Angeles, this museum has really got to be the Parthenon of such places.”
The first thing most visitors will notice on entering the building is Bruce, a 1,208-pound (548-kilogram), 25-foot-long (7.6-meter), 46-year-old shark made from the “Jaws” mold. Bruce hangs above the bank of main escalators and was hoisted there last November in anticipation of what was then a planned April opening.
The featured inaugural exhibit celebrates the works of the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Others examine the work of directors Spike Lee and Pedro Almodovar.
Some galleries focus on the Oscars, with actual statuettes won across the decades, and speeches projected on walls.
Projected scenes are a theme in all the museum’s galleries, with technology from 18th century “magic lanterns” through silent films to the 3-D digital tech of today.
Costumes from “The Wizard of Oz” to “The Wiz” are on display, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
Announced in 2012 and first slated to open in 2017, the museum was beset with delays that are typical for such a project, but they were compounded by a pair of pandemic postponements.
Designed by architect Renzo Piano, The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is a 300,000-square-foot (27,871-square-meter) space made up of two buildings, one old, one new, at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
“It’s shiny and new and enormous, and it’s crammed with about 125 years’ worth of ideas and dreams and life-changing cinematic experiences,” actor Anna Kendrick said at the media preview.
The older structure is the 1930s Saban Building, once home to the May Company department store. It’s linked by bridges to a new building that is topped by a terrace and a concrete-and-glass dome that has a distinctiveness that could lead to a nickname.
Piano said Tuesday that he hopes it’s “the soap bubble” and not something more cinematic.
“Please,” the architect said, “don’t call it the Death Star.”
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