Why restrict your love of cinema to the living room and sticky movie theater auditoriums? There is an array of museums across the world devoted to film waiting to be discovered! The following is a list of ten museums that are a must-visit for any movie buff. They have been chosen primarily for their educational and historical value.
10. The Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles
Located in the heart of the American film industry, The Hollywood Museum boasts the biggest collection of movie memorabilia in the world. Rocky Balboa’s boxing gloves, Christopher Reeve’s Superman costume, and 10,000 other authentic showpieces can be viewed throughout its impressive four floors. Originally purchased in 1928 and converted into a studio by legendary makeup artist Max Factor, the building itself is rooted in the history of cinema. Today, the museum pays homage to its beginnings through the restoration of the famous makeup rooms where many prominent movie stars once sat for the esteemed artist.
9. The Academy Museum, Los Angeles
Even though its doors do not officially open until December 2020, the Academy Museum is projected to be one of the most important American museums dedicated to cinema. Spearheaded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, its mission is to celebrate the art form, explore the collaborative nature of filmmaking, and examine the cultural importance of film. Similar to The Hollywood Museum, it will host a broad collection of artifacts ranging from the Cowardly Lion’s mane and Shirley Temple’s iconic tap shoes. Movie buffs will also get to experience detailed exhibits dedicated to The Wizard of Oz and Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki.
8. Warner Bros. Studio Tour, Los Angeles
While technically not a museum, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is a necessary and worthy addition to this list. It provides film fans the opportunity to go behind the scenes of a real working Hollywood studio, bringing you closer than a museum ever could to the movie-making experience. Witness backlots and soundstages in action. Other perks include lounging on the Central Perk couch from Friends and trying on the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter.
7. The Museum of Moving Image, Astoria
Proud of the immersive experience it provides, New York’s Museum of Moving Image highlights the technological and creative process of filmmaking, as showcased in its main exhibit Behind the Screen. Among other interactive exhibits, guests can fiddle with sound effects and voice over. Each year, the museum screens more than 400 movies, a healthy mix of new, silent, and digitally restored films. And even though The Museum of Moving Image focuses less on memorabilia than the museums previously mentioned, it does house various cinema-related artifacts, including puppets and artwork once belonging to the great Jim Henson.
6. Hollywood Star Cars Museum, Gatlinburg
Located in Tennessee, the main attraction of the Hollywood Star Cars Museum is a collection of iconic vehicles featured in popular films. The Batmobile, the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future, and the Ectomobile from Ghostbusters is just a sample of the cars the museum has on display. Many of the vehicles are works of the late George Barris, an automobile designer who created more Hollywood cars than anyone else in the business.
5. The Cinema Museum, London
Across the Atlantic, the Cinema Museum in London shares its respect and appreciation for history with its visitors. Rather than the razzle-dazzle of many American museums, its guided tour gives a hint to what going to the movies was like in the early 20th century. Throughout the tour, guests can view a collection of authentic artifacts from film equipment to vintage usher uniforms. Located in what used to be the old Lambeth Workhouse, it is a place where Charlie Chaplin spent much of his childhood.
4. The Museum of Cinema, Paris
The Museum of Cinema, or the Cinémathèque Française, offers fans of French cinema a break from Hollywood glam. Its main mission is to inspire a new generation of filmmakers through the preservation of French film and foster an appreciation for its heritage. The museum contains 18,000 posters, 10,5000 costumes, and thousands of other related artifacts. Through its use of light and darkness, architect Frank Gehry designed the inside as an homage to the projection booths of old.
3. German Film Museum, Frankfurt
With perhaps the exception of the Museum of Film and Television Berlin, the German Film Museum is the most widely adored movie-related museum in Germany. Its focus is broad, choosing to highlight all aspects of filmmaking from the development of cameras to wardrobe, acting, and special effects. Similar to The Museum of Moving Image in New York, it screens an array of movies, including classic silent pictures. The German Film Museum is known for interacting with the wider film community and collaborating with emerging contemporary artists.
2. The Museum of Cinema, Odessa
Located in the port city of Odessa, the Museum of Cinema is dedicated to the history of filmmaking in Ukraine and the Soviet Union. Built on the grounds of the famous Odessa Film Studio, the first one established in the Russian Empire, the museum contains a collection of over 10,000 films, scripts, posters, and much more. It also has a particular interest in the avant-garde. However, its quirkiest feature is an exhibition that explores how the invention of cinema can be traced back to Odessa itself.
1. China National Film Museum, Beijing
Measuring approximately 466,000 square feet, the China National Film Museum in Beijing is the world’s biggest national film museum. It opened in 2005 and was originally built as a landmark to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chinese film industry. The museum contains twenty exhibition halls and is of particular interest to various scholars and academics due to its research potential. It also has an IMAX theater, the largest screen in all of Asia.
About the Author
Nathaniel Whelan has an M.A. from Carleton University and a diploma in Professional Writing from Algonquin College. When he is not serving coffee at his local Starbucks, he can be found reading, writing, or buried under a pile of LEGO. He currently lives in Ottawa with his partner and pet cats Goose and Loki.
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