After many delays and budget overruns, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures has finally opened. It’s a blockbuster, with enough dazzle, beauty and innovation to, arguably, justify its $484 million cost. And, in good news for meeting planners, the event space here is gorgeous!
I was able to tour the seven-story, 3000,000-square-foot museum during a press preview, where Tom Hanks and architect Renzo Piano spoke about the epic, nearly century-long effort to bring a museum devoted to movies to the industry’s world capital. (Sadly, I did not receive an invitation to the opening gala a couple of days later, attended by the likes of Cher, Lady Gaga, Sophia Loren and Halle Berry.)
Located on the LACMA campus in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Academy Museum combines two structures, the renovated and expanded 1939 Streamline Moderne landmark building that once housed the May department store, and the brand-new glass-and-concrete spherical building that is home to the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater and a viewing deck. The museum complex also includes Fanny’s, a sprawling anchor restaurant helmed by Wolfgang Puck.
Visitors enter the Academy Museum through the Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby and begin their exploration with a 13-minute introduction to cinema presented across multiple screens that juxtaposes clips from 700 films. From there you walk through the multiple galleries on the next three floors that comprise “Stories of Cinema,” taking note of the giant shark from “Jaws” that hangs from the ceiling. You’ll see iconic movie artifacts, including ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Rosebud sled from “Citizen Kane,” Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” suit, “Star Wars” droids. There are also interactive displays devoted to the various components of moviemaking—sound, casting, costume, writing and more—and rotating special exhibits. For a $15 fee, in addition to the $25 cost of admission, visitors can enjoy “The Oscar Experience,” a high-tech simulation of what it’s like to win a gold statuette.
There is not a more impressive place in all of Los Angeles to host an event. The venues available for private functions include:
- The Tea Room: capacity 570 standing, 490 seated
- Wilshire Terrace: capacity 420 standing, 220 seated
- Dolby Family Terrace: capacity 600 standing, 420 seated
- Grand Lobby: 650 standing, 250 seated
- Spielberg Family Gallery: capacity 50
- Walt Disney Company Piazza: capacity 750 standing, 920 seated, 1,000 theater
- David Geffen Theater: capacity 1,000 seated
- Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman Terrace: capacity 200, standing
- The Cecile B. DeMille Founder’s Room: capacity 40 standing
- Ted Mann Theater and Lobby: capacity 288 seated