LOS ANGELES — Highlights of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, slated to open in 2020, outline almost the entire history of the movies from the 19th century to the mid-1980’s.
The museum’s Associate Curator and Head of Film Programs, Bernardo Rondeau, explained that the Academy has three sources to draw on: the Academy Collections, the Academy Film Archive, and the Margaret Herrick library.
“We can draw from all three of those collections for our galleries,” said Rondeau. “And for the museum collection, specifically, it's a combination of items that we have purchased at auction, items that have been donated to us, and somewhere in between.”
Rondeau slipped on a pair of rubber gloves to examine one of the oldest items in the collection, an original hand-cranked Lumière brothers camera from the 19th century. It is one of the key pieces in the history of early cinema technology for the museum.
“You can shoot film in the camera and then also it converts to project that film onto a screen, and in December of 1895 [the Lumière Brothers] have the first paid public screening of any film in Paris,” said Rondeau.
Some items like the exquisitely-detailed headdress worn by Greta Garbo in 1931’s Mata Hari required extensive conservation work.
“Something like 16 seamstresses [originally worked on it], individually putting on each little bead and each little detail and I believe conservation work that we've done on it has been quite thorough because it is a very delicate, very old piece,” said Rondeau.
Rounding out this batch of acquisitions is an original “xenomorph” head from Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) designed by legendary Swiss artists H.R. Giger, and one of Jack Nicholson's jackets from the Stanley Kubrick classic horror film, The Shining.
Although many of the treasures, such as one of the original Gremlins from Joe Dante’s 1984 film of the same name, were donated by private collectors, often, items are bought at auction, which is a very competitive game as interest in movie collectibles has grown exponentially over recent years.
“The values of some of these objects have really gone through the roof,” said Rondeau. “And now there are more entities that exhibit them. I think it's very exciting for Los Angeles, and for the world in general, the fact that we're going to have this major motion picture museum in the heart of Los Angeles."
"It will really flesh out the Los Angeles story and I think hopefully give people a location where they can experience firsthand and hear stories from the mouths of the filmmakers as well.”
Although the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has been a long-time coming, judging from this sneak peek of their collection, for film fans, the wait will be worth it.
For more info: academymuseum.org