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Kerry Brougher Opens Up About Academy Museum, Challenges Ahead

Photo of Jacob Combs By Jacob Combs | Thompson on Hollywood June 10, 2014 at 2:02PM

What exactly is a film museum? It's a question without a clear answer, but one upon which some $300 million is riding as the Academy Museum lopes towards the goal of a 2017 opening.
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The main event space overlooking the Hollywood Hills planned for the new Academy Museum.
Renzo Piano Building Workshop / Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences The main event space overlooking the Hollywood Hills planned for the new Academy Museum.

What exactly is a film museum?  It's a question without a clear answer, but one upon which some $300 million is riding as the Academy Museum lopes towards the goal of a 2017 opening.

In his first interviews since being named director of the burgeoning museum, Kerry Brougher has opened up to the press about his vision for the museum that will inhabit and rethink the historic May Company building on Wilshire Boulevard, stressing the importance of creating an "immersive experience" that both captures the magic of watching a movie and communicates the complex artistry and technology that goes into making one.

"In an art museum," Brougher told Variety's Tim Gray, "you hang a Picasso on the wall. You’re hanging the actual art work, as it was meant to be seen. But in a film museum, you’re getting a different kind of experience of film, not one projected in a movie theater."

Think screens-on-screens for Brougher's conceptualization of the museum: three-dimensional montages presented on multiple screens that visitors could walk through, as well as smaller screens that could create 'micro-experiences,' allowing some interested visitors to dive deeper into the craft of moviemaking without forcing all museum-goers to have that experience.

Of course, the Academy Museum isn't just going to be a film museum--it's going to be a museum about the Academy.  That means artifacts from the Academy's collection (things like Dorothy's ruby slippers) will be housed in a permanent collection surveying Hollywood history as well as rotating exhibits focused on more specific topics.  And, of course, there will have to be some exhibit pertaining to the Oscars.

This article is related to: Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.