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Museum to Offer Classic Radio, TV Shows

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The New York City-based Museum of Television and Radio announced plans Monday to open a sister museum in Beverly Hills in the fall of 1995 using digital recordings of its collection of more than 60,000 radio and TV programs.

“I don’t think there’s ever been a museum in two locations with exactly the same collection,” said Robert M. Batscha, president of the museum, established by CBS founder William S. Paley in 1975 to collect and preserve television and radio programs, and to make those programs available to the public.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. March 3, 1994 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday March 3, 1994 Home Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 5 Metro Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
Museum--A photograph in Tuesday’s editions of The Times appeared to identify a Bank of America building as the future site of the Museum of Television and Radio. The museum actually will be housed in a former bank building at 469 Beverly Drive that was in the foreground of the photograph.

The museum’s Board of Trustees has hired Richard Meier, the architect of the $773-million Getty Center in Brentwood, to redesign a former bank building at 469 N. Beverly Drive. The $8-million project is to include a theater, a broadcast studio, a computerized library, a gallery, educational facilities and scores of individual viewing consoles where the public can listen to and watch programs chosen for artistic, cultural and historical significance.

In addition, satellite technology will enable seminars and events on one coast to be beamed to a theater audience at the museum on the other coast, officials said.

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This will mark the first comprehensive public collection of TV and radio programming in Los Angeles. The North Hollywood-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences maintains an archive of film and television programming with UCLA, but it is maintained primarily for researchers and industry professionals.

The Museum of Television and Radio begins its annual three-week Television Festival on Wednesday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Leo S. Bing Theater. There, the public can interact with the cast and creative teams of past and current TV programs, ranging from “Barney Miller” to “NYPD Blue.”

“We’ve had a lot of interest for a Los Angeles museum from the general public,” Batscha said. “Whenever we do the festival each year, every session somebody says, ‘When are you going to have a museum in Los Angeles like you do in New York?’ Our L.A. board has wanted to have a museum here for a long time, but we wanted to first complete our facility in New York and get the building paid off.”

In 1991, the museum moved into a lush facility on 52nd Street in Manhattan designed by architect Philip Johnson. The Los Angeles museum will share the same collection, digitally recorded on 8-millimeter videotapes and played back to the public by robotic machines. The New York staff of curators, researchers, administrators and technical support staff can largely be used to maintain both museums.

“One of the reasons the board was so favorable about doing this is because there’s a limited amount of staff duplication,” said Frank A. Bennack Jr., chairman of the Board of Trustees for the museum. “Programs are researched and selected for the collection, and they have to be transferred and catalogued. We will not duplicate that staff in Los Angeles. The incremental cost is making one more copy of the program.”

The annual operating budget of the New York museum is $8 million, and Batscha expects it will only cost an additional $1 million a year to operate the Los Angeles museum. Both museums will be treated as a single institution run by one board. There are 140 staff members in New York, and there probably will be about 50 in Los Angeles.

The Beverly Drive building, leased from the Bank of America, is in the design phase. Renovations should begin this summer. So far, Bennack said he has lined up $4 million to transform and equip the building, and fund raising is under way to secure the other half of the money needed.

James Loper, executive director of the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences, said he does not consider the museum to be competition. Nor does the academy plan to provide easier access to its archives for the general public anytime soon. He explained that the UCLA archives cater to scholars and industry people. And the collection specializes in entire compilations of TV series, rather than selected episodes the way the museum does.

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“I don’t see the two crossing purposes, frankly,” Loper said. “We have different missions.”


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