Movie mu­seum OKd, heads to pro­duc­tion

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Boehm

The f ilm cap­i­tal of the world is fi­nally get­ting a mu­seum to show­case cin­ema history.

On a 13- 0 vote, the Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil on Wed­nes­day gave f inal ap­proval for a $ 300- mil­lion mu­seum to be built on the for­mer May Co. depart­ment store site on Wil­shire Boule­vard at Fair­fax Av­enue, ad­join­ing the Los An­ge­les County Mu­seum of Art.

Sched­uled to open in 2017, the 290,000- square- foot Academy Mu­seum of Mo- tion Pic­tures will fea­ture a trea­sure trove of Hol­ly­wood mem­o­ra­bilia and a 1,000seat domed theater for screen­ings and events.

De­signed by Ital­ian ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano, the pro­ject is be­ing built by the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences with con­tri­bu­tions from an ar­ray of f ilm in­dus­try heavy­weights, in­clud­ing Steven Spiel­berg, Jeffrey Katzen­berg, David Gef­fen, Dolby Lab­o­ra­to­ries and China’s Dalian Wanda Group.

“I grew up here in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and al­ways said, ‘ Why is there not a film mu­seum in the heart of film­mak­ing ter­ri­tory?’ ” said Kerry Brougher, the f ilm mu­seum’s di­rec­tor. “Fi­nally, af­ter to­day, we will be able to achieve that.”

Con­struc­tion is ex­pected to be­gin this sum­mer, but one po­ten­tial hur­dle re­mains. Fix the City, a non­profit ac­tivist or­ga­ni­za­tion, has said it is weigh­ing le­gal ac­tion to stall de­vel­op­ment. The group con­tends the pro­ject was ram­rod­ded through the City Coun­cil with­out enough time to as­sess po­ten­tial prob­lems, in­clud­ing in­creased traf­fic and

in­ad­e­quate park­ing for the es­ti­mated 860,000 peo­ple ex­pected to visit the mu­seum an­nu­ally.

“I’ve got my war paint on now,” said James O’Sul­li­van, vice pres­i­dent of Fix the City and head of the Mir­a­cle Mile Residential Assn. “If it were up to me I would say, ‘ Bring on the at­tor­neys.’ ”

Academy ex­ec­u­tives said there is suf­fi­cient park­ing be­cause in ad­di­tion to us­ing LACMA’s park­ing lots they are leas­ing 800 spa­ces nearby to use when the LACMA lots f ill up. Mu­seum lead­ers say the over­flow park­ing will pre­vent snarls.

One thing that ap­par­ently isn’t a prob­lem: money. Bill Kramer, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Academy Mu­seum, said it has re­ceived $ 250 mil­lion in cash and pledges. The academy isn’t seek­ing public fund­ing, apart from ap­ply­ing for rel­a­tively small grants for spe­cific projects.

The academy long has dreamed of es­tab­lish­ing the world’s grand­est film mu­seum. Its stum­bled in the early 1960s af­ter the Los An­ge­les County Board of Su­per­vi­sors gifted it land in Hol­ly­wood and $ 1.3 mil­lion, plus a green light for con­struc­tion. Ground was bro­ken, but in­ter­nal dis­sen­sion over fund­ing and how the mu­seum should in­ter­pret and dis­play film history sank the pro­ject.

For the new mu­seum, Pi­ano’s de­sign calls for con­struct­ing a 130- foot- high dome north of the 1939- vintage May Co. build­ing, whose in­te­rior will be re­conf ig­ured. Two f loors will be de­voted to per­ma­nent ex­hibits that take visi­tors through cin­e­matic history start­ing with the f irst mov­ing im­ages; the top f loor will have tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions.

The academy will im­port some tour­ing ex­hi­bi­tions from other mu­se­ums, but it aims to tap its large col­lec­tion of doc­u­ments, pho­to­graphs and ar­ti­facts such as props, cos­tumes, movie cam­eras and other tech­ni­cal equip­ment to launch ma­jor shows in L. A., then ex­port them to mu­se­ums around the world.

The ground f loor has another large gallery whose theme Brougher said is still be­ing de­vel­oped. A sec­ond cin­ema of about 275 seats will oc­cupy a be­low- ground level. The big domed one will topped by a glassed- in view deck of­fer­ing panoramic vis­tas in all di­rec­tions.

The mu­seum will charge an as- yet to be de­ter­mined ad­mis­sion fee, ex­cept for a dis­play in its lobby, which will be open to the public for free.

Brougher said he’s in the process of hir­ing a staff for ex­hi­bi­tions and pro­grams that will to­tal 60 to 70 em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing four or five cu­ra­tors who’ll re­search the col­lec­tion, brain­storm ideas for ex­hi­bi­tions and see them through to fruition.

Be­sides fo­cus­ing on par­tic­u­lar f ilms, f ilm­mak­ers and ac­tors, Brougher said, the mu­seum’s ex­hi­bi­tions may well tackle broader themes. For ex­am­ple, he said, “we might deal with the na­ture of celebrity, the whole dream ma­chine that helps cre­ate” the world of cin­ema.

The coun­cil’s OK on Wed­nes­day sparked an in­stant cel­e­bra­tion among mu­seum back­ers. Dawn Hud­son, the mo­tion pic­ture academy’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, cried as soon as the coun­cil voted.

She said af­ter­ward that she hadn’t ex­pected to tear up, but it had hit her emo­tion­ally be­cause “this day is an event we’ve been wait­ing for and work­ing to­ward for a long time.”

Af­ter hugs all around in­side the coun­cil cham­ber, Tom LaBonge, the out­go­ing City Coun­cil mem­ber whose dis­trict in­cludes the mu­seum site, ush­ered more than 30 academy of­fi­cials and other sup­port­ers onto the City Hall steps for group pic­tures and fur­ther cel­e­bra­tion.

Soon, Mayor Eric Garcetti came out to add his con­grat­u­la­tions.

“En­joy this mo­ment. En­joy your vic­tory,” the mayor told Hud­son, academy Pres­i­dent Ch­eryl Boone Isaacs and key mu­seum staffers.

Then some­one men­tioned the neigh­bors’ ob­jec­tions and po­ten­tial law­suit. “Welcome to my world,” Garcetti quipped.

Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Ar t s and Sciences

THE ACADEMY MU­SEUM of Mo­tion Pic­tures, en­vi­sioned in a ren­der­ing, was given f inal ap­proval by the Los An­ge­les City Coun­cil on Wed­nes­day.

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