One of the take-aways, for me, after attending the virtual tour of the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in Los Angeles, is that their team is acknowledging that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — home of the Oscars —in the past, had been slow on recognizing their lack of diversity and inclusion.
Most people feel that positive change began with the appointment of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, in 2013, as Academy president. Isaacs served on the Academy’s board of governors for more than two decades and was the third female and first African-American president serving from 2013-2017.
It was refreshing to see how boldly the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, acknowledged the 2016 controversy where the Academy came under fire after only White actors were nominated in the acting categories for the second year in a row, giving birth to the hashtag #Oscarssowhite. They also didn’t shy away from how actress Hattie McDaniel, actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian was treated, by the Academy. McDaniel won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind” (1939), becoming the first African American to win an Oscar.
Here’s the thing, when an organization as powerful as The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures publicity addresses the things they didn’t do correct and then rallies with a full program of community engagement — for all — you have to think that these steps toward equality were made after deep soul searching and input by advisors to address these prickly issues.
Right now, the public opening is scheduled for September 30, 2021. Leading up to the opening, the Academy Museum has planned a series of virtual programs kicking off in April 2021 around the Oscars®.
The museum’s inaugural programs are made possible by the support of donors, including Richard Roth Cinema-Arts Fund, participant, Pritzker Foundation, Eric and Melina Esrailian, Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Garry Rayant in honor of Sid and Nancy Ganis, Julia and Ken Gouw, Robert and Miryam Knutson, and Dr. Peter Lam Kin Ngok of Media Asia Group Holdings Limited. Generous support is also provided by Istituto Luce Cinecittá.
Some of these events include gallery tours, screenings, workshops, panel discussions with film industry leaders, and educational offerings for families and students will illuminate the world of the movies to people of all ages, backgrounds, and areas of interest.
The reach of programs will be extended worldwide through the Academy Museum’s website https://www.academymuseum.org/en and social media channels.
In hiring scholar, film programmer, professor, and writer Jacqueline Stewart as its chief artistic and programming officer, the Museum team moved from just talking about inclusion to making things happen. Stewart reports to Bill Kramer, the museum’s director, and president.
Jacqueline Stewart, chief artistic and programming officer of the Academy Museum, said, “We have been hard at work preparing the Academy Museum and are ready to welcome visitors first virtually and then in person in September. The programs we are rolling out for our opening are dynamic, diverse, and deeply grounded in the history and artistry of filmmaking. Whether they are recognizing Hollywood legends, delving into the working process of film professionals, or addressing issues of race, gender, sexuality, and inequity that run through film history, these programs will use the power of movies and stories of filmmakers to open eyes and minds.”
Stewart, who also serves on the curatorial advisory committee for the museum’s upcoming exhibition “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971,” arrives fully from her most current role in the University of Chicago Department of Cinema and Media Studies. In the new position, she will lead strategy and planning for the Academy Museum’s curatorial, educational, and public programming initiatives including exhibitions, screenings, symposia, publications, workshops, and K-12 programs.
“Jacqueline Stewart is a powerful leader in the film world,” shares Bill Kramer, the museum’s director, and president. “Her inspiring history of scholarship, teaching, programming, building community partnerships, and archival work combined with her dedication to inclusivity and accessibility make her an ideal leader for the museum. With her remarkable ability to engage the public and her commitment to showcasing the diverse and fascinating history of the movies, she will be a vital part of our mission to advance the understanding, celebration, and preservation of cinema.”
Said Stewart, a native of Chicago’s South Side adds: “As a scholar who researches, teaches, presents, and archives films, I see how cinema shapes our understandings of history and culture, of other people and ourselves, in profound and enduring ways. In my work to create welcoming spaces for people to experience films, I have seen that movies have a unique ability to galvanize dialogue and cultivate empathy. I am excited to join the Academy Museum team at this critical moment for the institution, and for our world, to engage visitors and partners in accessible, multifaceted conversations about the history of filmmaking and the impact that cinema has on our lives.”
Bill Kramer, director, and president of the Academy Museum, said, “Developed in partnership with incredible Academy members, our slate of virtual programs is designed to complement our compelling and engaging core and temporary exhibitions. When we open, our programs will also come to life in our theaters and in our public spaces to deepen the visitor experience. Our screenings, panels, symposia, and educational programs are key components of how our visitors will interact with the museum and learn about filmmaking.”
Around the time of the 93rd Academy Awards®, to be presented on April 25, 2021, the Academy Museum will launch a series of virtual conversations, screenings, and education programs on the Academy Museum website . Conceived as digital prologues to the Academy Museum’s core exhibition, Stories of Cinema, these programs will share the varied voices of extraordinary film artists, tell the stories of their inspirations and collaborations, and explore the art, technology, history, and social impact of the movies.
Pre-opening programming will kick off on April 22, 2021, with Breaking the Oscars® Ceiling, a conversation hosted by Academy Museum trustee Diane von Furstenberg and moderated by the Academy Museum’s Jacqueline Stewart, who will be speaking with women who achieved historic Oscars milestones. Guests include actor Sophia Loren, actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, actor Marlee Matlin, and singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Also launching on April 22, the museum’s website will be activated with thoughtful historic content on the Oscars and Hollywood: the Academy Awards History Timeline, an interactive timeline that previews and expands on the Academy Museum’s gallery of Academy Awards History and Hollywood Past and Present, a virtual tour of Oscars-related locations with vintage and contemporary photographs of key locations.
Additional pre-opening virtual programs will include (times and dates TBA):
Film Screenings and Conversations with the Artists
*Screenings are available in the United States at this time; the subsequent conversations are available worldwide.
• “Pariah” (2011), the cast and crew of this groundbreaking fiction debut of writer/director Dee Rees reunite to discuss the conception, production, and impact of this coming-of-age story.
• “Y tu mamá también” (2001), a celebration of the creative partnership between three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki and four-time Oscar-winning writer-director Alfonso Cuaron (this event will be in Spanish with English subtitles).
In Conversation Series
• Spike Lee, a virtual conversation with the trailblazing writer-director, exploring how Lee’s vast personal collection represents his many cinematic muses in the museum’s director’s Inspiration gallery.
• Hildur Guðnadóttir, a virtual conversation between the Oscar-winning musician and composer (Joker, 2019) and Academy Museum Exhibitions Curator Jenny He, discussing Guðnadóttir’s work and her approach to designing the museum’s Composer’s Inspiration gallery.
• Activism and Film, an in-depth conversation on the intersections between filmmaking and social change featuring drop-in guests and previewing the Academy Museum’s Impact/Reflection gallery.
Workshops and Education Programs
• How to Use Film as a Teaching Tool to Have Difficult Conversations, a series of workshops for educators and caregivers.
• The Work of Black VFX Artists , celebrating the accomplishments of six visual effects professionals in a candid discussion about perseverance and the shared experiences of Black film artists in the industry. Offering unprecedented access into their creative process via break-out sessions with visual effects professionals Lyndon Barrois, Lauren Ellis, Audrea Topps-Harjo, Greg Anderson, Andrew Roberts, and Corey Turner.
• Hayao Miyazaki Family Day, introducing families to the world of Hayao Miyazaki’s films through a day of events including art-making workshops and live performances. Academy Museum family day programs are made possible in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
When the Academy Museum opens on September 30, 2021, it will begin presenting a robust range of screenings, in-depth conversations, and programs for youth and families.
Visitors will be welcomed with a slate of film screenings that celebrate the cinema’s rich past, present, and future. Presented in the Academy Museum’s two theaters—1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and 288-seat Ted Mann Theater—viewers will enjoy films as intended with state-of-the-art sound and projection in multiple film and digital formats. The theaters will be spaces to explore and experience the art of cinema as well as inspire conversation and action long after the credits roll.
The museum will present film series that celebrate a global spectrum of cinematic perspectives and practices across histories to expand beyond conventional narratives and build on the ever-expanding film canon, including:
• Branch Selects, selected by each of the Academy’s 17 branches that represent meaningful breakthroughs in the evolution of their craft.
• Exhibition-inspired series expanding on the themes, films, and filmmakers in the museum’s galleries. For the museum’s inaugural temporary exhibition, Hayao Miyazaki, the museum will present all of Miyazaki’s features in both Japanese with English subtitles and with English dubbing, as well as additional series exploring the worlds, ideas, and stories created by this master filmmaker.
• Oscar Sundays, screenings of Oscar-nominated and -winning films, as well as a behind-the-scenes, look inside the Academy and the Academy Awards.
• Filmmakers’ Inspiration, expanding upon the gallery spaces curated by film artists Pedro Almodóvar, Hildur Guðnadóttir, and Spike Lee with films they select highlighting their works and films that have influenced them.
• Preservation Spotlights, showcasing recently preserved films from archives around the world
• Retrospectives offering expansive surveys of a filmmaker’s body of work. Our inaugural year will include retrospectives on a range of film artists from Indian writer/director Satyajit Ray, Ethiopian-born writer/director/teacher Haile Gerima, Austrian exiles who helped shape much of the Golden Age of Hollywood, and actress and icon Anna May Wong.
• Shorts in the Geffen, daily screenings celebrating the creativity of short-form filmmaking—live-action, documentary, and animated—in the David Geffen Theater during regular museum hours.
Additionally, the museum will present conversations, panels, symposia, and lectures several times a month in our theaters celebrating film artists and film history while also providing learning opportunities to lean into areas of harm, hurt, and complexity:
• Legacy, inviting family members of Hollywood legends to discuss the legacy of film artists and provide first-hand insights into film history.
• Impact/Reflection, featuring film artists in conversation with scholars and activists about the relationship between documentary and narrative film and topics presented in the museum’s Impact/Reflection galleries in Stories of Cinema, such as #MeToo, pay equity, Black Lives Matter, climate change, and labor relations.
• The Arts and Sciences of Cinema, providing information and context about breakthrough scientific and technical achievements in filmmaking, featuring figures who have made major contributions to their fields.
• In Conversation Series, with profiles of film artists, celebrations of the anniversaries of significant films, discussions in which film artists speak with people who have been their inspirations and influences, and more. • Contextualizing Cinema, where Academy members and scholars unpack challenging topics in film history—such as racialized makeup, degrading depictions of Indigenous peoples, and racism in animation—with the aim of increasing empathy and knowledge.
• Object Acquisitions, inviting audiences to follow the journey into the Academy Museum of iconic objects such as the “Bruce the Shark” model from “Jaws” (1975) and the ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).
• Hayao Miyazaki, linked to the Academy Museum’s first temporary exhibition, Hayao Miyazaki, unpacking themes in his films including environmentalism, female empowerment, post-war society, and Japanese spirituality and culture.
Education and family programs will be ongoing at the Academy Museum, provided both in the exhibition galleries and in the Shirley
Temple Education Studio:
• Teen programs, made for teens, by teens, the Academy Museum will engage with local teenagers to create workshops and events.
• Family studio activities will follow family matinee screenings on weekends and will be facilitated by Teaching Artists, with Academy members dropping in as guest teachers. Participants will gain hands-on experience with filmmaking processes and technologies while enjoying informal, play-based learning.
• Free Monthly Quiet Mornings, held on weekends before regular public hours, will give young people with sensory processing disorders and their families or caregivers an opportunity to experience the museum with no crowds, lower sound levels, and moderated lighting contrasts. Participants will join a facilitated accommodative tour, followed by a workshop in the Education Studio.
• Seasonal family/community days will provide programs on all floors throughout the day, including tours, Education Studio activities, demonstrations, and performances.
• School Tours will be offered twice a week, at no cost and with the expense of bus travel reimbursed. Advance registration is required and will become available in the summer. Tours and accompanying programs in the Education Studio at appropriate grade levels are being developed with the assistance of roundtables with teachers from the Los Angeles Unified School District. Programs will be designed to connect to national curriculum and the needs of California teachers and students.
Also, visitors will be able to join themed, interactive 45-minute guided tours throughout the week, offering insights on the core collection, exhibitions, art installations, and the Academy Museum’s architectural design. Family tours and accommodative tours (including offerings for the low vision, blind, hard of hearing, and deaf communities) will be scheduled on a regular basis. On weekends, multiple 15-minute Gallery Highlights will encourage a deeper understanding of focal points in the museum’s content while engaging visitors in conversation. Guided tours and Gallery Highlights will be free with museum admission, and free audio tours will also be available in English, Spanish, and Korean.
More details on the Academy Museums Inaugural programs will be announced at a later date.
For more information, please visit academymuseum.org.