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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.
Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali's design for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali's design for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

And then there are the theaters--three of them, in fact.  One, the large, spaceship-like sphere set to crown the museum, would be used for film premieres, Brougher hopes.  The other two would be for "installation-based projects"--"I would imagine we wouldn't do many feature films," the newly-appointed curator told The New York Times.

When Brougher officially steps into his role on July 1--he is currently the interim director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington--he will be joining a project with many vocal critics.  Chief among those, perhaps, is Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, who has criticized the Renzo Piano-designed 'spaceship' theater plans as "trapped in a kind of retry-futuristic limbo, with little to say about contemporary Los Angeles."  (He also called it a "snub-nosed helmet" and "a sleek, giant albino Pac-Man."

In May, Zoltan Pali, the LA architect who was collaborating with Piano, left the job with little ceremony.  The Academy is now looking for another firm to join the project as executive architect as the beginning of construction looms for later this year.  Hawthorne called the shake-up a possible "blessing in disguise" and urged the Academy to take at least six months "to take stock" and tweak the design.

"Unfortunately," Brougher told Variety's Gray when asked about the criticisms, "the image that’s been used a lot is not accurate. I’m coming in somewhat late in the process, but I think it’s all coming together nicely."

As tunneling for the new Metro line through the mid-Wilshire district commences (and continues to shake up Museum Row), Brougher will certainly have his work cut out for him when he begins his new job in July.

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

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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.