What is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures? Here’s a look around

Taking in Los Angeles from the glass-domed terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures feels like devouring it with one, heaping spoonful. Here, it all comes together — a folding together of coarsely minced greenery, laced mountains, a trickling of cars down streets, roofs peppered throughout. It’s a delicious bite. And that alone is worth the $25 admission ticket, which has to be secured a good three weeks ahead of time.

Watching the Academy Awards is a family tradition for me, so the opening of a museum dedicated to this almost 100-year-old ceremony was an exciting event. Our tour starts from the top down, but of course, you can explore however you like. We walk the glass bridge that connects the rooftop terrace to the seven-story Saban Building, which houses several exhibits, a restaurant, a store and a below-ground theater. Here, there’s an entire floor dedicated to the evolution of film — a clever (and interactive) display of optical toys and devices. Think: magic lanterns, phenakistoscope discs and peep show viewers, pulled from the collections of Richard Balzer, who amassed these amusements for his cabinet of curiosities. 

A three-floor exhibit covers the Stories of Cinema, tackling every aspect of filmmaking, from screenwriting and sound to costume production, makeup and prosthetics. We even get a chance to view some of the standout gowns worn at the Oscars throughout the years. The Saban Building also houses special exhibits; until June of this year, visitors can get an intimate look at Hayao Miyazaki’s work, get up close and personal with the intricacies of his character designs, storyboards, backgrounds and so much more. It’s an incredible experience, seeing everything with such detail, analyzing and dissecting every line and choice of color.

But this is just a sampling of what’s on offer at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. In case you ever drive by the cylindrical building covered in 24-karat gold mosaic and wonder if it’s worth a visit, here’s my two cents: If you have the slightest bit of interest in movie-making, it is. The museum does a great job offering a holistic view of the industry, its history, beginnings and evolution. It’s a perfect place to go if you’re a film student, an animator, a movie aficionado, an amateur screenwriter, or makeup artist dabbling in prosthetics. But really, no matter what your background is, I’ll guarantee that you’ll walk out with something new, and a refreshed interest in the industry that’s defined this city for decades. So, to celebrate the 94th Academy Awards taking place today, here’s an inside look into the various corners of the Academy museum.

LA-based journalist and blogger sharing her deep-seated, honest love for fashion and travel. Check in every week for new stories of exploration and roundups!

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