The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and LACMA have come to a tentative deal to establish AMPAS’s long-planned motion picture museum in the May Company Building (up until now, “LACMA West”).
• The city needs a movie museum. Tourists looking for—who knows what?—on Hollywood Boulevard need someplace to go.
• What some in the art world must be thinking: LACMA diminishes itself by bringing a non-art tourist attraction onto its campus.
• How well the deal will work will depend on the programming of AMPAS museum. The Museum of Modern Art has always recognized film as a modern art form to be displayed among other forms of modernism. Unfortunately, MoMA won’t be programming the new museum. The fear/likelihood is that an AMPAS museum will be like the corporate-funded Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta. It will be dependent on funds from industry players and will feel pressure to tout familiar studio hits.
• AMPAS will be leasing the whole 300,000 May Company building, putting all other plans and pipe dreams for the site on hold.
• It might not happen. Starting in 2005, AMPAS assembled a big site in Hollywood for its movie museum and hired starchitect Christian de Portzamparc to build it. It bought at the top of the market and soon become a subprime property owner, complete with neighbors complaining about the weedy front yard. (That fiasco is not mentioned in the AMPAS-LACMA press release.) The Academy still has to raise the money for the Miracle Mile museum—a lot of money in a lagging economy.
• Should the AMPAS museum come to pass, L.A.’s “Museum Row” will have art, tar pits, cars, and movies. Dude, where’s the surfboard museum?