Last fall, a museum opened in Los Angeles that offers a fresh look at Oscar winners and the entire dream factory industry.

First, let’s clear up a lot of confusion: the announcement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (officially called the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures) was misunderstood by many. They thought that it would be a museum of Oscar glory, because it is the American Film Academy that awards the most prestigious awards in cinema. And where the Oscars are, there are stars, and where there are stars, there are fans, and where there are fans, there are all kinds of rumors, gossip, as well as valuable things like Marilyn Monroe’s dresses. So, if you are looking for all these exciting stories about the stars, you should go to completely different places. For example, in the Hollywood Museum (The Hollywood Museum), located in the former studio of Max Factor. It is there that you will find more than ten thousand “treasures” associated with stars and cinematic myths: from Elvis Presley’s bathrobe to Hannibal Lecter’s prison cell from The Silence of the Lambs. At the Hollywood Museum, you will be shown how ugly girls are turned into written beauties – Max Factor, as you know, specialized in make-up.

You will not find anything like this at the Academy Film Museum. To tell the truth, there is also a small collection of star relics here too: a whole room with Oscar figurines, which you can hold in your hands for a fee (at first they were very heavy), or a pair of Dorothy’s shoes from The Wizard of Oz (1939), which are located near the shark model from the movie “Jaws”. However, the museum was opened not at all for the sake of historical things – it is dedicated to the “science of cinema” and looks to the future. Why then go to this Los Angeles “temple of cinema”? There are at least three reasons to go to the Miracle Mile, a street where, in addition to the Academy Museum, there are several other museum institutions.

Hall where you can see and hold the Oscar statuettes


The small modernist building of the late 1930s, where the Film Academy was located, was reconstructed by the bureau under the direction of star architect Renzo Piano. Muscovites will be especially interested in comparing the two museum complexes created by Piano almost simultaneously: in December, HPP-2 was opened in the Russian capital, converted into a center for contemporary art. The architect is known for skillfully transforming history into modernity, adding high-tech elements to old buildings. Thus, the Academy Film Museum acquired a huge glass sphere from the arsenal of intergalactic fantasies (these are the houses in Hollywood films that were built on Mars). This area now houses one of the largest and most comfortable cinemas in the world – most likely it is there that the Oscars will be transferred. But the main thing is that now it is the best viewing platform in Los Angeles – stunning views of the Hollywood Hills open from there.


The main focus of the Academy Film Museum is on exhibition projects. Its upper floors are completely devoted to original curatorial expositions. Now there is a big retrospective of the great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, prepared in collaboration with Studio Ghibli. You can really immerse yourself in the world of Totoro by lying on artificial turf under a painted sky. Further plans have also been made public. Scheduled for 2022 is Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898-1971, a research project that reveals the little-known contribution of African-American filmmakers to the development of American cinema. By the way, he received a Sotheby’s award in the amount of 250 thousand – the chairman of the auction, Alan Schwartzman, drew attention to the fact that such a project is capable of rewriting the history of cinema altogether.

Film screenings

As already mentioned, the new museum is a living organism that reacts sharply to all the problems of our time. And the main thing here is film screenings of rare films. In two halls, you will not find rental films, only rarities: it can be a retrospective of films by women directors, international silent films, Soviet cinema, a comparison of productions from various Hollywood studios, and even Indian independent cinema. In other words, a true paradise for professionals. Director of the Academy Film Museum Bill Kramer denies all accusations of highbrow and promises that everyone will be interested. The benefit of the program is supervised by prominent Oscar winners like Pedro Almodovar or Spike Lee.

Three more museums worth visiting in Los Angeles:

Getty Center

Founded by oil tycoon Paul Getty, this museum has grown to become an entire block of science and has grown to include some of the world’s most skilled art restorers. The main thing that attracts the Getty Center is the masterpieces of European art from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century (the stunning Rembrandt, Renoir, who is not even in Paris, and, of course, Van Gogh’s Irises).

The Broad Museum

Founded by the billionaire Broad family, the up-and-coming modern art museum is located next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall and immediately attracts attention with its futuristic architecture. Inside, on two floors of the exhibition space, you can see more than 250 paintings, photographs and sculptures by artists of the second half of the 20th century – from Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. And this is only a small part of what has been accumulated – about 2,000 works by contemporary artists are stored in the archives of The Broad.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

One of the most fashionable and visited museums in America is officially considered the repository of all the art treasures of Los Angeles. There are several first-class collections here at once, which are absolutely impossible to see in one day: ancient Greek marbles and ceramics, Mexican antiquities, Islamic rarities and, of course, 20th century modernism from Picasso and Miro to Jeff Koons. The museum is famous for its provocative exhibitions. So, following the just-completed display of portraits of Barack Obama, the museum offers an exhibition of “Portraits of Black Americans”, from the 1800s to the present day. By the way, LACMA is literally a couple of steps away from the newly opened Museum of the Film Academy – definitely don’t miss it.


Josh White, JWPictures/©Academy Museum Foundation; Iwan Baan/©Iwan Baan Studios,
Courtesy Academy Museum Foundation; Renzo Piano Building Workshop/©A.M.P.A.S./ Images from L’Autre Image;;;