In a virtual tour yesterday, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures offered a glimpse inside its new $388-million home which is scheduled to open later this year on the Miracle Mile.
The project - designed by Renzo Piano and Gensler with contributions from SPF:architects - occupies a prominent site at the northeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue - near LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum, and adjacent to a new subway station now being built as part of Metro's Purple Line extension.
The bulk of the Academy Museum's 300,000-square-foot facility is located in the repurposed shell of a 1939 May Company department store. The Streamline Moderne landmark, now renamed as the Saban Building after donors Cheryl and Haim Saban, is highlighted by an exterior cylinder wrapped in 350,000 gold leaf mosaic tiles - imported from Venice, Italy - and a facade composed of limestone.
The interior of the 250,000-square-foot Saban Building includes permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, as well as education studios and the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater. A cafe and a gift store will also be located on a second-floor lobby.
Immediately north of the Saban Building, the 50,000-square-foot Sphere Building is arguably the visual centerpiece of the project. The orb-shaped structure - which connects to its neighbor through a pair of pedestrian bridges - is composed of concrete and steel, and covered with a canopy composed of 1,500 specially-made shingled glass panels.
Beneath the canopy, which will provide shelter for a publicly-accessible terrace deck, the Sphere will house the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, which is expected to provide daily screenings, as well as preview, openings, and other special presentations. The theater, in addition to being capable of digital and film projections, also includes a dedicated orchestra pit.
The space below the suspended Sphere Building - called the Walt Disney Company Piazza - will also be made accessible to the public.
The virtual presentation - which was led Laura Dern and included interviews with Danai Gurira, Rita Moreno, Guillermo del Toro, and Spike Lee - introduced the permanent and temporary exhibitions which will greet visitors to the museum upon opening on September 30.
A three-level, 31,000-square-foot exhibition called Stories of Cinema is intended to showcase stories about the moviemaking process - including perspectives from writers, directors, performers, animators, sound designers, and more. It will include a galleries solely devoted to The Wizard of Oz, as well as vignettes spotlighting Bruce Lee, Oscar Micheaux, Citizen Kane, and Real Women Have Curves.
The Academy Museum's inaugural temporary exhibition - announced last year - will be a retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese director known for animated films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso, and Spirited Away.
The new facility will also serve as a showcase for the Academy Museum's collection of film memorabilia and artifacts, which includes photographs, film assets, screenplays, artwork, and costumes. Highlights include Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and "Bruce," the only surviving shark model created from the original mold used in Jaws.
The opening of the Academy Museum will mark the end of a five-year construction process which has been repeatedly delayed as costs have soared. The has seen its anticipated debut date pushed back multiple times, as its expected price tag grew from $250 million to roughly $388 million. However, more recent delays can be attributed to safety precautions regarding large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project is the latest monument added to the Miracle Mile, which in the coming years will also see a $750-million rebuild of the LACMA campus and a potential revamp of the La Brea Tar Pits and George C. Page Museum.
- Academy Muesum (Urbanize LA)