The Barbra Streisand Bridge and the new Academy Museum

On Friday, February 7th 2020 the first sneak peek of the Academy Museum was given to press. The museum (which was first imagined over 90 years ago) is due to open later this year and looks incredible.

Visitors will get to experience multiple floors of innovative and inclusive exhibits, two lush state-of-the-art theatres, a restaurant and a glass-lined “Barbra Streisand Bridge” which will lead them to a breathtaking view of the Hollywood Hills from the Dolby Family Terrace. This innovative open-air dome is constructed from 1,500 panels which rotate with the sun to shade the space. 

Rebecca Keegan of The Hollywood Reporter noted that at the preview “Visitors could sit in the plush, red 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, which was being kept chilly to facilitate the installation of laser projection, and walk across the glass Barbra Streisand Bridge, which connects the concrete 1939 Saban Building (formerly the May Company Building) to architect Renzo Piano’s spherical glass addition, with its sweeping Hollywood Hills views. (In a flaw that would seem to vex the notoriously perfectionistic Streisand, her bridge did have a crack.)”

Keegan also said “The Academy Museum, an idea floated since the earliest days of the 92-year-old organization, has had a long path to completion. The $388 million project, which was first announced in 2012, was initially slated to cost $250 million and open in 2017, but it has been delayed several times due to construction problems, including finding a prehistoric sloth fossil under the building and earthquake proofing Piano’s complex dome.” 

The Barbra Streisand Bridge being set in place during construction

The Academy Museum is setting up shop in the former May Company department store in the Saban Building at the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax. The building’s original golden circular structure featured over 350,000 hand-laid 24 karat gold leaf mosaic tiles-35% of which had to be replaced. Luckily the original tile makers Orsoni were able to recreate the 1-inch pieces to perfection. 

Bill Kramer, Director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures spoke at the press event saying “This museum belongs to everyone. We want to tell stories from many points of view. The motion picture community and movie fans from around the world know how much the Academy Museum will mean for the global appreciation and enjoyment of the movies. We are deeply grateful to our donors and partners for their magnificent generosity.” Kramer also mentioned that the museum fundraising goals are 95 percent met with more than $368 million pledged. This fundraising campaign was headed by chair Bob Iger and co-chairs Tom Hanks and Annette Bening. 

Clarence Moye of Awards Daily reports that “When the museum opens, it will house an enormous collection of film history. This amounts to 12.5 million photographs; 237,000 film and video assets; 85,000 screenplays; 65,500 posters; and 133,000 pieces of production art. The featured exhibitions will rely on these curated pieces to celebrate film and the movie making process. The museum’s core exhibits will be featured on the second and third floor and will represent the past, present, and future of all genres of filmmaking. One core exhibit will take guests through the collaborative process of filmmaking through all of the Academy’s 17 branches. It will employ 1939’s classic The Wizard of Oz to illustrate general filmmaking concepts. Other exhibits will feature studies of sci-fi and fantasy filmmaking, black cinema from 1900 to 1970, and a one-of-its-kind retrospective of Hayao Miyazaki and his Studio Ghibli films.”

Photo by Clarence Moye

“The museum also features two theaters. The largest is the 1,000 seat David Geffen theater with plush red seats and screening capability to handle 35mm, 70mm, digital laser and nitrate prints. Housed in the Renzo Piano-designed glass sphere, the David Geffen theater hosted this year’s Oscar nominations announcement featuring Issa Rae and John Cho. The smaller Ted Mann theater features 288 green seats and will house retrospectives in addition to featuring in the on-going film education programs.”

According to Director Bill Kramer, an opening date will be announced “very soon”.