The best museum exhibits for movie buffs to visit
From temporary exhibitions to permanent collections, we round up some cinematic masterpieces.
Where does a silver screen enthusiast go to be entertained? The cinema is the obvious choice, but it’s certainly not the only one. In museums and galleries around the world, display cabinets are stuffed with costumes and cameras, makeup and memorabilia, posters and puppets. Here are just a few movie-themed exhibitions that are sure to fire up any cinephile.
The Hunger Games Exhibition, New York
To describe "The Hunger Games" as having a cult following is to downplay the franchise’s success. Though the books quickly built up an obsessive teen fan base, the movies brought "Hunger Games" fever mainstream. Now, the incredibly popular book and film series has landed a traveling museum-style show complete with props, costumes, interactive kiosks and displays that pry further into the moral quandaries stirred up by the books and films. There’s even a downloadable smartphone app, which allows visitors to find extra content in the displays. The exhibition is currently showing at Discovery Times Square, where it will remain until Jan. 3, 2016, before decamping to San Francisco.
Eretz Museum, Tel Aviv
The exhibition includes more than 200 photos and retro movie posters from two classic cinemas, granting spectators the ability to envision the movie stars and films of the period. (Photo: Eretz Museum)
A new exhibition at the Eretz Museum is a tribute to the memory of two classic, now-defunct, movie theaters in Israel – the Cinema Allenby and Cinema Mograbi. Both cinemas began operating in the 1930s and displayed large posters on their façades to attract moviegoers. A team of painters and designers was tasked with creating these colorful site-specific posters, often inspired by movie plots or featuring portraits of movie stars. More than 200 photographs of these two plush movie houses are on display in the exhibition, reminding visitors of the glory and glamor of cinema-going in its golden age. Bolstering the photographic display are copies of the old posters as well as clips from newsreels and movies from the period. Curator Guy Raz says visitors to the exhibit can expect to enter a “tunnel of time between 1931 and 1959,” with the photographs evoking the spirit of an era when a night at the movies meant lines around the block, a packed theater and moments of magical escapism.
Museum of the Moving Image, Queens
This museum’s location in Queens, far away from Manhattan’s mobbed streets, means it is often referred to as a “hidden gem.” While it’s a stretch to call it hidden – any New York movie fan worth their salt knows all about this superb spot – it is certainly a “gem.” Among the main draws is the on-site cinema, which screens more than 400 films every year, and the core “Behind the Screen” exhibition – a superb examination of the technical and creative processes that go into not just making movies, but also television shows and video games. Here, a vast selection of costumes, props, equipment and movie merchandise is interspersed with interactive exhibits where you can do things like dub your own voice over well-known film scenes or edit in sound effects to movies. The main show is bolstered by temporary exhibitions: On the third floor, an exhibition devoted to “Mad Men” – a TV show described by the museum’s Barbara Miller, as “a cultural touchstone” – is currently running until Sept. 6, 2015. Also showing (from Aug. 7) is the much-hyped “How Cats Took Over the Internet,” which pays homage to those viral felines whose GIF-worthy antics have captured the popular imagination.
German Film Museum, Frankfurt
This much-loved Frankfurt establishment vies with Berlin’s Museum für Film und Fernsehen for the attention of the movie-loving masses in Germany. The first part of its permanent exhibit examines the technical aspects of moviemaking, including the development of the camera and the projector. The second half – located upstairs – focuses on narrative in filmmaking and includes sections on acting, wardrobe, lighting and digital effects, as well as interactive exhibits that let visitors play editor for the day, experimenting with the order of shots within a scene. Also featured here is a film room, which plays short excerpts from various different movies, ranging from silent films to modern-day blockbusters.
The Cinema Museum, London
“A guided tour of the Cinema Museum is to experience what it was like going to the pictures in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s,” said co-founder Martin Humphries of this eccentric little museum, which is housed in an old Victorian workhouse in Lambeth, South London. Don’t expect to just show up at the door; it is only open for tours (which must be pre-booked) and for special ticketed events (find them listed on their website). Once you secure access, you’ll get to view a fascinating and wide-ranging collection of cinema ephemera that includes early projectors and lenses, vintage cinema periodicals and books, old cinema fittings and furnishings, props and publicity materials as well as vintage usher and usherette uniforms. What’s more, the museum venue has a strong cinema connection, occupying the site of the old Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin stayed as a child.
The Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles
Not only is this museum located in the film capital of the world, but it’s housed in an iconic art deco building that used to function as a makeup studio and factory for Max Factor, a movie makeup pioneer. The museum pays homage to its origins with restored makeup rooms, while other displays are spread across four floors – each crammed with TV and film memorabilia, including a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe and Rocky’s boxing gloves. Currently showing here is the “Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood” exhibition, which runs until Sept. 27, 2015, and includes costumes such as one worn by “Ben Hur” star Ramón Novarro, Liberace’s tux and a cocktail dress belonging to Elizabeth Taylor. It doesn’t stop at clothes, though, with lots of other film paraphernalia bulking out the offering, including photographs and personal effects.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE: