Academy aligns with LACMA to create a movie museum
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' board of governors voted late Tuesday to locate a long-discussed museum dedicated to cinema history in the former May Co. building in Los Angeles. The property is located at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue and is owned by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The two organizations are taking the initial steps to begin developing plans for fundraising, design, exhibitions, visitor experience and modifications to the historic site, according to the academy.
The decision to set the museum in the 1939 art deco building, which sits next to LACMA, represents something of a turnabout for the academy, which spent close to $50 million in 2005 to purchase a multi-acre plot of land on Vine Street in Hollywood next to the Mary Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study.
The academy had hired French architect Christian de Portzamparc but was unable to move forward on the ambitious project when it failed to raise the roughly $350 million to $400 million in necessary funds.
Housing the museum in an existing building might help keep costs down. It's the first major initiative for academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson, who worked in collaboration with academy President Tom Sherak and LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan. Hudson and Govan previously worked together during her former tenure as head of Film Independent.
"The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will provide a much needed destination for cultural tourists and Los Angelenos to learn more about cinema, and the setting could not be more ideal, nestled next to the largest encyclopedic art museum in the Western United States," said Terry Semel, co-chair of the LACMA board of trustees.
Since the 1960s, various groups have tried and failed to create a movie museum for Los Angeles. The academy's plans involve creating a long-term lease for the facility that would see the body retain autonomy for all aspects of the museum. It would look to LAMCA for guidance in running a premier arts institution.
The academy intends to mount a new fundraising campaign for the museum that ultimately aims to give visitors an entertaining and interactive experience utilizing the facility's 300,000 gross square feet of space.
-- Nicole Sperling
Photo: The former May Co. building, built in 1939, is the slated home of the new movie museum. Credit: Kirk McCoy / Los Angeles Times