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LACMA partners with Motion Picture Academy on new movie museum

October 4, 2011 | 10:50 pm

Lacmawest

Los Angeles has museums dedicated to art, science, automobiles and even the Grammy Awards. But the city known as the epicenter of the movie industry has always lacked a large-scale museum dedicated to the art of filmmaking.

Now that absence is poised to be filled thanks to a new partnership announced late Tuesday between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

LACMA said in a statement that it is partnering with the Academy to establish a movie museum in the historic May Co. building, currently known as LACMA West, at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

The museum said that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Academy "to work in good faith" toward creating the museum. The two organizations are expected to discuss details of a future contract and for the Academy "to begin developing plans for fundraising, design, exhibitions, visitor experience and modifications to this  historic site," LACMA said.

Terry Semel, the co-chair of the museum's board of trustees, said in the statement that it is "long overdue for the city that is home to the motion picture industry to recognize  this art form with a museum of its own."

LACMA said the Academy hopes to sign a long-term lease for the LACMA West facility, and "will retain autonomy over all aspects of its museum  while benefiting from LACMA's experience in managing a premier arts institution."

LACMA didn't provide any timeline for the museum's completion. It said that the Academy will launch a fundraising campaign some time in the future.

When it is eventually completed, the museum is expected to feature both permanent and rotating exhibitions inside the space's 300,000 gross square feet.

LACMA has had a complicated relationship with the film community in recent years. The museum said in 2009 that it was going to eliminate the bulk of its film program due to declining audiences and economic constraints. But a public backlash caused museum leadership to change its mind.

This year, LACMA announced that its new film program would be a partnership with Film Independent, the organization behind the L.A. Film Festival.

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-- David Ng

Photo: The LACMA West building. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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