Nearly a century after the idea was first floated, a museum dedicated to the magic of cinema is finally set to open in Los Angeles, with the first temporary exhibition devoted to Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, slated to open by the end of 2019, will be devoted to the past, present and future of film, offering visitors a look behind the screen and into how movies are made.
"Los Angeles was at one time and still is to some degree one of the major capitals for the production of film... so it seems the natural place to have a major museum to ensure that the legacy of film lives on," said Kerry Brougher, director of the museum, which is the brainchild of the Academy of Picture Arts and Sciences, the institution behind the Oscars.
Dorothy´s famed ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," a copy of a script annotated by Gregory Peck for the 1962 drama "To Kill a Mockingbird," the doors to Rick´s Cafe Americain from "Casablanca" or the typewriter used by Joseph Stefano to write the screenplay to Alfred Hitchcock´s "Psycho" are among a trove of objects that will be on display.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the near $400 million museum will be housed in a historic building -- the Saban Building formerly home to the May Company department store -- and will feature six floors that include exhibition spaces, a cafe, a store, plus a 1,000-seat theatre.
"The Museum will be a gathering place for film lovers and will invite people from all over the world to re-experience and deepen our collective love of this art form, accessible to all," said Dawn Hudson, CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."
"Like the experience of watching a movie, a trip to the Museum will be a kind of waking dream in which visitors feel as if they´ve slipped through the screen to see how the magic is created," she added.
Several Hollywood A-listers, including Tom Hanks, Annette Bening and Laura Dern, have been involved in the project, hosting fundraising events and drumming up support both at home and abroad.
"It´s going to be a combination of the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art and the Hermitage," Hanks told reporters on a recent tour, referring to world-class museums in Paris, New York and St. Petersburg, Russia.
"Everybody who comes to Los Angeles will want to see what´s inside and they will linger for more than just a few hours."
The museum will open with a retrospective devoted to Miyazaki, whose animation masterpieces include "Princess Mononoke" and the Oscar-winning "Spirited Away."
Brougher said that apart from paying tribute to the genius of Miyazaki, the exhibition was also intended to reflect the global scope of the museum.
"I wanted to make sure that we came out of the gate with an international figure to show people that this museum isn´t going to be just about Hollywood or American cinema," he told AFP. "I was concerned that being in Hollywood and being part of the Academy, the museum might be seen as being too much about Hollywood and the Oscars."
Jessica Niebel, curator of the exhibition, said the retrospective, the first of its scope in the United States, will take visitors on a thematic journey through Miyazaki´s world and will include more than 200 concept sketches, storyboards and film clips, with the animator himself hopefully launching the exhibit.
"Animation plays a big part in the mystery of film and is sometimes overlooked," Niebel told AFP. "And Miyazaki is a genius... and a filmmaker I admire because he is making movies generally about life... and what it means to exist in this world."
The retrospective will be followed by an exhibition on the history of African-American filmmakers and their contribution to American cinema.
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