Nearly a century after the idea was first floated, a museum dedicated to the magic of cinema is finally set to open in Los Angeles, with the first temporary exhibition dedicated to the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, scheduled to open by the end of 2019, will be devoted to the past, present and future of film, offering visitors a look behind the screen and into how movies are made.
“Los Angeles was at one time, and still is to some degree, one of the major capitals for the production of film … so it seems the natural place to have a major museum to ensure that the legacy of film lives on,” said Kerry Brougher, director of the museum.
The museum is the brainchild of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the institution behind the Oscars.
Dorothy’s famed ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, a copy of a script annotated by Gregory Peck for the 1962 drama To Kill a Mockingbird, the doors to Rick’s Café Américain from Casablanca, and the typewriter used by Joseph Stefano to write the screenplay to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho are among the trove of objects that will be on display.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the nearly US$400 million museum will be housed in a historic building – the Saban Building, formerly home to the May Company department store – and will feature six floors that include exhibition spaces, a cafe, a shop and a 1,000-seat theatre.
The museum will open with a retrospective devoted to Miyazaki, whose animation masterpieces include Princess Mononoke and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away.
Brougher said that apart from paying tribute to the genius of Miyazaki, the exhibition is also intended to reflect the global scope of the museum.
“I wanted to make sure that we came out of the gate with an international figure to show people that this museum isn’t going to be just about Hollywood or American cinema,” he said. “I was concerned that being in Hollywood and being part of the academy, the museum might be seen as being too much about Hollywood and the Oscars.”
Jessica Niebel, curator of the exhibition, said that the retrospective, the first of its scope in the United States, would take visitors on a thematic journey through Miyazaki’s world. It will include more than 200 concept sketches, storyboards and film clips, and it is hoped that the animator himself will launch the exhibition.
“Animation plays a big part in the mystery of film and is sometimes overlooked,” Niebel said. “And Miyazaki is a genius … and a filmmaker I admire because he is making movies generally about life … and what it means to exist in this world.”
The retrospective will be followed by an exhibition on the history of African-American filmmakers and their contribution to American cinema.