The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences showed some of its long-in-the-works Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to media Wednesday.
The imposing, still very under construction space, now scheduled to open to the public sometime in 2019, is a two-structure affair combining the old, streamline moderne May Company building on the northeast corner of Wilshire and Fairfax and a massive, glass-topped steel-and-concrete Sphere Building, connected by walkways just to its north.
Designed by prize-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano, the Sphere and reconfiguring of the 1939 department store, along with initial exhibitions and installations, has the academy aiming for a fundraising goal of $388 million (outside estimators see the cost for the museum going past $400 million). A fundraising effort led by Disney Chairman Robert Iger has already brought in $288 million, including a $50 million donation announced Wednesday from producer Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl. The May Building will now be known as the Saban Building.
“I hope some people will step up and match what we are seeing from the Sabans,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the construction site adjacent to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art complex. “Because we’re almost three quarters of the way there, but we need about $80-$90 million more.”
What does all that money buy for, weirdly, the first movie museum in the city that’s been home to the film industry for more than a century? According to Academy Museum director Kerry Brougher, a very different experience than can be had at other cinema shrines around the world.
“When you come back in 2019, you’re really going to enter a kind of dreamscape,” Brougher remarked in the cavernous what-will-be main lobby of the Saban Building. “We really see the museum as not just a museum, but a kind of campus, a kind of film hub that will have all kinds of experiences in it.
“We’ll have temporary shows, we’ll have permanent exhibitions, we’re going to have film screenings in two different theaters, one in this building and one in the other building,” Brougher continued. “We have an amazing [Sphere rooftop] terrace with a view of the Hollywood Hills. We’re going to have special projects in different spaces. We’ll have a great restaurant, a retail operation, a gallery right in the lobby space here, and a really…