Yeah, it’s another post about Gallifrey One 2022 in which most of the post isn’t really about the convention. But hey, that’s because I had the better part of two full days before the convention fun started to see some new-to-me stuff in LA!
After hitting up the Hollywood Museum for another visit on Wednesday, the museum trend continued on Thursday, this time in the company of my friends Felicity and Bill. Our destination was the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and it didn’t disappoint!
This museum is all about movies, the film industry, the Oscars, etc. and their impact on society. As a movie lover/collector, it sounded like a very safe bet when Felicity suggested it! Because she and I (plus some other friends) had already gone on the three big studio tours (Warner Bros in 2017, Paramount in 2019, and Sony in 2020), we were actually spinning our wheels a little bit to come up with somewhere fun to visit together on the Thursday. This museum only opened at the end of September 2021, so that probably explained why I hadn’t heard of it when she first suggested it. Their website offered some details into their exhibits, which sounded interesting enough, so we decided to book it. The site does specifically call out that you need to pre-book your tickets (not sure if that’s permanent or due to COVID), so I booked two tickets for us (only $25 each, so not bad at all) and we were good to go. We had also invited Bill, who was on the fence as he had other potential plans that day, but those ended up falling through the day before, so on Thursday morning, he told us he’d booked a ticket as well and would be joining us. Hurrah! Three people did make the Lyft to the museum a little cozy, but hey, we made it work. The weather was warm (low 70s) and sunny, so it was the perfect day to go inside a museum. 😀
If I’m honest, this museum started off kind of slowly for me. When we first walked in (after presenting proof of vaccination, which was much appreciated), we were presented with several large screens showing clips from a variety of films, which turned out to be part of their Stories of Cinema exhibit. I guess I just wasn’t sure where it was going because I just felt like we were watching random movie clips.
This is definitely a museum that unfolds as you walk through it though, as there was much more to be seen as we went further in, starting with the huge painted backdrop of Mt. Rushmore as seen in the iconic film North by Northwest, which is part of the Backdrop: An Invisible Art exhibit. It’s actually not as big now as it originally was because, after being used in that film, it was trimmed down and used in other films. It was pretty amazing to see such a big backdrop in person though, especially knowing it was painted by artists decades ago. What was especially interesting about this exhibit was the attention paid to Mt. Rushmore itself and how it’s such a problematic location, since the land belongs to Native Americans and was stolen from them by the US government. I appreciated learning more about that history, especially because this is a film museum, so they could have just kept the information specific to movies, but they didn’t. I like that. Definitely some good learning for me!
As we continued to move through (and up – it’s on multiple floors) the museum, things continued to get more interesting. The next exhibit, called Significant Movies and Moviemakers, took us into some really interesting stuff, including some artifacts, documents, props, etc. from well-known movies like Citizen Kane and actors like Bruce Lee. I find it really cool to see screen-used props, production designs, and other stuff from the world of film that highlights the creative process, so this was definitely up my alley.
Citizen Kane stuff! Clockwise from left – one of the three Rosebud sleds, a drawing of Xanadu, and a script along with some lenses that were used to shoot the film.
Some cool stuff from the world of actor and martial artist Bruce Lee. From left to right – a drawing of a fight sequence (he always did this as he choreographed fight scenes), one of his scripts with bonus doodle artwork, and a pair of screen-used nunchaku.
Although I’m at least somewhat familiar with Citizen Kane and Bruce Lee, this exhibit furthered my film education as it went on, providing information about people I knew nothing about, like Oscar Micheaux. He was a Black filmmaker who independently produced more than 40 films, both silent and “talkies.” According to the museum’s website, his films are “race films, employing Black casts and crews to make films for Black audiences who routinely found themselves excluded, stereotyped, and vilified in mainstream movies.” Considering the time when he was making these films (he lived 1884 – 1951), it’s amazing that he was able to create them. Really glad to have gotten a glimpse into his career!
Although we didn’t go to the separately-ticketed Oscars Experience (it’s an additional $15, which we probably would have paid, but the exhibit wasn’t open the day we were there), we still got to see some cool Oscars-related content, including various Oscars and a few outfits worn by attendees and award winners over the years, plus watch some videos of notable acceptance speeches. This perhaps goes without saying (since this is a museum, after all), but this experience felt especially curated and interesting and had a good flow from one section to the next (it crosses a couple of different rooms/spaces). There were a good number of visitors in the space while we were there, but it never felt cramped and it was always easy to slide over to a different part of the exhibit.
After some good education on the Oscars, we moved through a hallway that had a couple of cool items relating to the classic Hitchcock film Psycho – the typewriter on which the screenplay was written and storyboards for the famous shower scene. At the end of the day, it’s easy to say “Sure, it’s a typewriter” and “Wow, some drawings!” but knowing that these things are part of film history is pretty awesome.
The next steps took us to an unexpected place. A land of bright colors, flying houses, and magical creatures. Did you guess Oz? If so, click your heels together three times! 🙂 There’s a whole gallery dedicated to The Wizard of Oz and it’s full of pictures, drawings, wardrobe pieces, and more. While I’m not a devotee of this film, I’ve always enjoyed it and have even read a book on the making of it, so walking into a gallery full of artifacts related to it was cool. Check out the photos below and see for yourself!
Some cool artifacts. From left to right – an original headpiece worn by the Cowardly Lion (the only one known to exist), the hat worn by the Wicked West of the West, and a jacket worn by a Munchkin.
After our trip through Oz, we moved into another gallery about magic, though it was the more practical kind of magic. That is, the magic of costumes and make-up, which are SO important in creating the worlds we love to watch on our screens. Still part of the Stories of Cinema exhibit, this one is Inventing Worlds and Characters, and includes so many things integral in bringing stories to life, like colorful and intricate costumes, casts of actors’ faces (used in making masks, prosthetics, etc.), and even some prosthetics used in movies like Bombshell (if you’re wondering how Charlize Theron looked so different from herself in that film, the answer is prosthetics). As with other parts of the museum, there were so many different things to catch our eyes here – we kept splitting apart as we each went to check out something interesting! Hopefully the photos below give you a sense of that.
The Inventing Worlds and Characters section (and indeed, the overall Stories of Cinema exhibit) ended with one last hurrah, all about animation. Storyboards, concept art, and even an animation cel or two – all kinds of colorful stuff to pique your interest.
After wrapping up animation and the Stories of Cinema exhibit, we did a quick drive-by of an installation dedicated to Oscar-winning filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. I’m woefully uneducated on the majority of his films, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve seen. This installation was created by Almodóvar himself and consists mostly of a series of large screens showing different vignettes from his films, plus a neat collection of posters showcasing some of them.
Before leaving, we made one final stop. Well, I guess it was two stops. The first was the Toy Story 3D Zoetrope, which is *so cool* (check out more about zoetropes here). What is it, you may ask? It’s a collection of 214 models on a large turntable, which may not sound especially interesting, but when that turntable starts moving and a collection of strobe lights start flashing on them, it looks as if the the models are actually animated. What’s especially cool is that you get to see the whole process from start to finish, as the turntable starts from a stationary position, then slowly starts turning and, as it gets up to speed, the lights start flashing and the animation begins. It’s really neat!
Our second stop wasn’t actually in the museum, but rather outside of it, on a big patio on the same level as the zoetrope. I can’t say it was the best view of the area, but you can see the Hollywood sign in the distance, plus it was nice to remove my mask for a moment (since we were outside).
What a day, right?! I feel like that’s a lot of pictures, but hopefully they gave you a taste of what you can expect from this museum. If, like me, you feel like it’s a little on the dull side when you first enter, stick with it! There are lots of neat artifacts to find, so do yourself a favor and pay it a visit.
As with the previous day, it was early afternoon by the time we finished, so I was hungry (this time I didn’t have an airplane charcuterie in the morning!). We figured there must be some good eating options nearby and a quick Google showed us HiHo Cheesburger (there is also a restaurant, Fanny’s, inside the museum, but it didn’t call out to us). HiHo was only about five minutes away, so we walked there and enjoyed some really tasty burgers. It’s a really casual place – the type of restaurant where you just walk to the counter and order your food to be brought to your table. The burgers were super juicy, the fries were crisp and fresh, and the shakes that Felicity and I enjoyed were nice and creamy. Definitely a good restaurant to visit if you’re looking for a quick, tasty meal!
And with that, it was time to head back to the Marriott! We had to wait about ten minutes for our driver and then had to spend another ~40 minutes in the car, but at least it was a bigger one than we were in on the way to the museum, so we weren’t as cramped.
Because the convention starts some actual events on Thursday evening, most of our friends had arrived (or were about to) by the time we got back to the hotel, so we spent the rest of the day catching up with various friends, most of whom we hadn’t seen in person for two years. Oh, how great that was! A few of us (the three of us, plus our friends Jason and Barsky) had dinner at JW Steakhouse, the swankier of the restaurants in the hotel. My HiHo lunch kept me pretty full for most of the day, but I enjoyed sampling some of the charcuterie we got, plus a bowl of French onion soup. It was amazing to be sharing a meal with great friends! Afterwards, I picked up my convention badge and poked my head into the convention’s traditional Thursday night ice cream social for a few minutes before heading back for an evening of socializing with more friends in our suite of rooms.
And that was the end of Thursday! Ready to read all about what I actually came to LA for in the first place? Check it out here!