Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is a museum established by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to celebrate the history of cinema and the art of filmmaking.
The museum is located at the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, on the so-called “Museum Row”, in Los Angeles’ Miracle Mile neighborhood, close to other museums such as The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Petersen Automotive Museum, the A+D Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and the La Brea Tar Pits pavilions.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, aerial view; photo © Academy Museum Foundation
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is housed in the former 1939 May Company department store, a Streamline Moderne-style building that has been renovated by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano. Piano also designed an iconic expansion, the Sphere Building, whose shape was seemingly inspired by that of a dirigible (though it remembers me more the Darth Vader’s Death Star galactic superweapon, honestly).
“The new structure, the Sphere Building, is a form that seems to lift off the ground into the perpetual, imaginary voyage through space and time that is moviegoing.” Renzo Piano says.
The expansion is a huge spherical construction, topped by a dome-covered panoramic roof terrace, which contains a 1,000-seat auditorium. Overall, the museum complex comprises galleries for permanent and special exhibitions, two theaters, workshops, education studios, a library, a restaurant, and a store.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles; on the left: the Sphere Building, on the right: the May Company department store building (now re-named the Saban Building); © Renzo Piano Building Workshop / © Academy Museum Foundation / Image from L’Autre Image.
The Spere Building topped by the Dolby Family Terrace; © Renzo Piano Building Workshop / © Academy Museum Foundation / Images from L’Autre Image and Cristiano Zaccaria.
The permanent exhibition of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is based on the museum’s own collection, the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and the Academy Film Archive; which feature over 300,000 objects overall, including documents, photographs, books, posters, production art, settings, props, costumes, technical equipment, audio recordings, and films.
The program of events and activities of the museum includes special exhibitions, interactive installations, film screenings, educational activities, and special events.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures – Los Angeles; longitudinal cross-section and a rendering of the lobby (Cristiano Zaccaria); © Renzo Piano Building Workshop / © Academy Museum Foundation
Cover image: © Renzo Piano Building Workshop / © Academy Museum Foundation / Image from L’Autre Image
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