What's inside the 'shiny and new' Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Nine years after it was first announced, the building dedicated to all things Hollywood, will finally open to the public on September 30

The projectors are rolling. The ruby slippers are on. Many an Oscar sits glistening. The shark has been hanging, and waiting, for almost a year.

Nine years after it was announced, four years after its first projected open date, and five months since its last planned launch date, the US film academy’s museum is ready to open to the public on September 30.

“I’m very moved to be able to say to you, finally, at last, boy howdy hey, welcome to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,” Tom Hanks told reporters on Tuesday at a media preview of the Los Angeles building and its exhibits.

Hanks, a member of the board of trustees, led the fundraising for the project along with fellow actor Annette Bening and Walt Disney Co executive chairman Bob Iger.

“We all know, films are made everywhere in the world, and they are wonderful films,” Hanks said. “And there are other cities with film museums, but with all due respect, created by the Motion Picture Academy, in Los Angeles, this museum has really got to be the Parthenon of such places.

"We need to celebrate everything that this town has brought to the world, and everything the art form has brought to the world, in order to bring people together," he said. "Movies continue to be the magical art that speaks to everybody everywhere."

The Oscar-winning actor described the museum as "the world's largest magic lantern that will transport us to amazing places, simply by getting together with a couple of strangers and walking into a dark room and sharing the experience".

Scroll through the gallery above for pictures from inside the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

The first thing most visitors will notice on entering the building is Bruce, a 548-kilogram, 7.6-metre, shark made from the Jaws mould 46 years ago. Bruce hangs above the bank of main escalators and was hoisted there last November in anticipation of what was then a planned April opening.

The featured inaugural exhibit celebrates the works of the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. Others examine the work of directors Spike Lee and Pedro Almodovar.

Some galleries focus on the Oscars, with actual statuettes won across the decades, and speeches projected on walls.

Projected scenes are a theme in all the museum’s galleries, with technology from 18th-century “magic lanterns” through silent films to the 3D digital tech of today.

Costumes from The Wizard of Oz to The Wiz are on display, including Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

The museum addresses controversies as well, including a historical lack of on-screen diversity and the #MeToo movement that exposed sexual harassment.

Announced in 2012 and first slated to open in 2017, the museum was beset with delays that are typical for such a project, but they were compounded by a pair of pandemic postponements.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is an almost 28,000-square-metre space made up of two buildings, one old, one new, at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“It’s shiny and new and enormous, and it’s crammed with about 125 years' worth of ideas and dreams and life-changing cinematic experiences,” actor Anna Kendrick said at the media preview.

The older structure is the 1930s Saban Building, once home to the May Company department store. It’s linked by bridges to a new building that is topped by a terrace and a concrete-and-glass dome that has a distinctiveness that could lead to a nickname.

"We want to bring through all of the international and diverse stories of moviemaking through our galleries," museum director Bill Kramer said.

Piano said Tuesday that he hopes it’s “the soap bubble” and not something more cinematic.

“Please,” the architect said, “don’t call it the Death Star.”

– Additional reporting by AP, AFP and Reuters

Updated: September 22nd 2021, 7:01 AM