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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures: A treasure trove for film lovers

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened its doors to the general public last year on Sept. 30, 2021, but this was my first time experiencing this breathtaking enterprise. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, the state-of-the-art museum that boasts four floors of cinematic marvel, not only from Hollywood but from film industries around the world, is a well-thought out and executed undertaking by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. The museum also includes a massive 1,000-seat screening theater—The David Geffen Theater—an audio and visual stunner that is fully equipped to present film in many formats, including nitrate, 35mm, 70mm, and laser projection supporting Dolby Vision, which allows visitors to see the subtle details and ultra-vivid colors creating multi-dimensional visuals. The theater also features Dolby Atmos, a truly immersive audio experience. Another state-of-the-art, smaller theater, the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater, is located in the Saban Building that offers curated screenings and special programs on a daily basis.

A treasure trove for film lovers and film industry professionals, the four-floor cinematic exhibition begins on the ground level itself at The Sydney Poitier Grand Lobby—with the introduction to the moving image, Stories of Cinema, which comprises a huge collection of montage clips of cult classic narrative and documentary films (on large HD screens) from Hollywood and world cinema.

Moving on upstairs, we are given a peek into one of the most important creations of the illusion of filmmaking—Back Drop: An Invisible Art. Special, dedicated sections to iconic symbols of Hollywood such as action legend Bruce Lee, and film classic, “ The Wizard of Oz” (part of the Art of Moviemaking), plunge the film lover into these worlds that we grew up watching on screen.

The Academy Museum has put a big emphasis on diversity in cinema that represents artists of color in entertainment. The vibrant and eclectic Spike Lee corner, which has all of his donated memorabilia from him, gives you the feeling of hanging out here and absorbing his wonderful energy that jumps out from his possessions from him. You understand the impact and tenacity of Latina women through the intricate breakdown of the powerful portrayals of actors America Ferrera and Lupe Ontiveros in “Real Women Have Curves.” The absolutely stunning Pedro Almodovar Installation room, showing him scenes on giant screens from his majestically crafted films, is a beautiful treat of moving art to patrons. Later in the summer, Aug. 21, the Academy Museum will be presenting a first-of-its-kind exhibition, Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971, on the rigorous and celebratory exploration of the achievements and challenges of black filmmakers in the US from the dawn of cinema to the Civil Rights Movement.

Other enthralling exhibits not to be missed are Oscar Micheaux, Encounters Gallery, The Path to Cinema, The Future of Cinema, Academy Awards History, Animation Gallery, Story/Screenplay Gallery, Image Gallery, Costume and Hair and Makeup Gallery, Hayao Miyazaki, and more. A number of the installations have a time stamp to make way for new exhibition pieces.

There are expansive plans in place to have more interactive community outreach through the Academy Museum’s lineup of exhibits for the next half of 2022 and into 2023. Currently witnessing the very hard push and focus on South Asian stories, creators and performers in global entertainment, it would be very exciting to see multiple installations dedicated to the history, art and music of the Indian film industry—popularly known as Bollywood—and other South Asian cinema of excellence, at the Academy Museum.

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