The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures doesn’t open to the public until Sept. 30, but Tom Hanks, Anna Kendrick, “Parasite” producer Miky Lee, architect Renzo Piano and others welcomed media on Tuesday to a peek of the fully installed galleries, and Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin was on hand to capture the scene.
The event began in the museum’s 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, the belly of Piano’s futuristic, glass-domed sphere building. Just don’t call the structure the “Death Star,” as it’s been nicknamed, Piano insisted.
“It’s not a Death Star,” he said. “Call it adirigible, that’s fine — this place was an airfield less than one century ago.” Or, he added, call it “a soap bubble. But this soap bubble will never blow up. It’s very well done, very well built.”
The museum’s collection of about 8,000 items includes Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” H.R. Giger’s creature headpiece from “Alien” and the typewriter on which Alfred Hitchcock wrote “Psycho.” But Hanks, a museum trustee who co-led fundraising efforts with Annette Bening and Bob Iger, said his favorite gallery was one filled with old magic lanterns that hundreds of years ago projected images via candlelight. It may not be as glamorous as seeing “Star Wars” droid R2-D2, also on view in the museum, but the lanterns illustrate the power of storytelling, he said.
“It made people like all of us want to go inside that dark room and be transported to another place,” he said of the gallery. “That’s what motion pictures do.”
Other cities have film museums, Hanks added. But “this museum has got to be the Parthenon of such places.”
Deborah Vankin is an arts and culture writer for the Los Angeles Times. In what’s never a desk job, she has live-blogged her journey across Los Angeles with the L.A. County Museum of Art’s “big rock,” scaled downtown mural scaffolding with street artist Shepard Fairey, navigated the 101 freeway tracking the 1984 Olympic mural restorations and ridden Doug Aitken’s art train through the Barstow desert. Her award-winning interviews and profiles unearth the trends, issues and personalities in L.A.’s arts scene. Her work as a writer and editor has also appeared in Variety, LA Weekly and the New York Times, among other places. Originally from Philadelphia, she’s the author of the graphic novel “Poseurs.”