With exhibits ranging from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki to a room full of real Oscars, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is everything you associate with the red carpet glamour of the Oscars and the creative technology behind motion cinema.
The museum takes you through all the steps of creating a movie, and to my surprise, the very first floor greets you with screens depicting movies from all over the world, reminding you that art has no cultural boundaries. Every floor of the museum’s four-story design has a “stories of cinema” exhibit, taking you through everything from Academy Award-winning speeches and the creation of foleys to costume design and cartoon animation. I learned so much about things in movies I took for granted, like certain angles, lighting and music.
The museum also has real props and characters from your favorite movies. My visit was personally made by being able to see the real C-3PO and R2-D2 used in the Star Wars franchise. It was amazing to be five feet away from costumes that seemed larger than life in places you only imagined on screen, like Florence Pugh’s famous Midsommar dress, Dorothy’s famous ruby slippers and Taron Egerton’s fiery Elton John costume from Rocketman. All of these aspects just made movies seem so much more tangible.
Though all the exhibitions within the museum were unique and technically profound, my favorite had to be the Miyazaki one. When you walked in, it felt as if you were transported to another realm, one where characters from Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle can exist. You were completely immersed in screens playing scenes from his movies, real Miyazaki sketches where you got to see the inner workings of his mind, a beautiful magical tree mimicking his enchanted forest and even lie down in fake grass staring at a ceiling of peaceful, floating clouds.
On the very top floor of the museum is the Dolby Terrace, which opens up into a view of the Hollywood Hills. The glass structure covering it is gorgeous and allows the panoramic view to open up to you. It was a perfect place to sit and relax for a while after a long day of walking around and absorbing information.
What I loved most about the museum is it really tuned in to what made it special; it isn’t something you can really recreate. They brought you into the world of cinema and did not let you leave. They used shadows, mock set designs and large movie screens to their advantage. They laid out exhibits based on creative exploration, and even if you didn’t read the descriptions or even know much about a specific movie, you would leave understanding something important about it because of how visual the museum was.
The Academy Museum did its job of representing cinema at its finest. As someone who did not know a lot about filmmaking going into it, I left with an appreciation for the artwork beyond what I could have ever imagined.