Taking advantage of Oscar weekend, officials at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures invited the Buzz, along with more than 200 other members of the local, national and international press, for a tour of the nearly completed museum building on Friday.
Museum Director Bill Kramer, who retuned to the museum last fall, welcomed the group to “an advance peek at the museum” as it begins the process of finishing its spaces and installing exhibitions. Kramer noted the dream of a museum of this scale in Los Angeles has been a long time in coming. Kramer announced it has raised more than 95% of its pre-opening campaign goal of $388 million, since the fundraising effort began in 2012.
Kramer promised the museum would belong to everyone, telling important stories for all audiences.
“To do so, we are drawing on the strengths that are available to no other museum in the world,” he said. “The extraordinary materials and collections that are found at the Academy’s library and the archive as well as our own growing collection and the extraordinary knowledge, insight and expertise of our Academy members, who are helping us building this museum.”
Kramer also commended architect Renzo Piano for his work on the complex, which “marries the past with the future.” In that marriage, the “past” is the renovation of the 1939 May Company department store building, a classic, Streamline Moderne building constructed at the height of the Hollywood’s Golden Age. Now called the Saban Building, to honor one of the museum’s larger donors, it will house the museum’s main lobby, six floors of exhibition and event spaces, a restaurant, a retail store, public event space, workshop/classroom space, and a 288-seat basement theatre.
Meanwhile, the “future” is a new addition, known as the “sphere” – perhaps the coolest part of the project – which contains the David Geffen Theatre, a 1000-seat, state-of-the-art theatre, decorated in “Renzo Red” and capable of showing 35MM, 70MM and nitrate film, with room for a 66-person orchestra on stage.
It’s “designed to appear as if it was floating,” explained Karmer. “It is a nod to the fantasy and magic of the movies.”
Officials told us the museum will announce its opening date very soon – maybe on Sunday at the live telecast of the Oscars, so we will be listening carefully. Memberships are also available now, which entitle holders to some advance previews of the museum and other cool perks. And finally, we also learned that anyone 17 year of age or younger will be admitted for free, thanks to a very generous grant from the George Lucas Foundation.
Meanwhile, here are some of views from our fun sneak peek: