AMPAS launches website for its fancy Academy Museum

When the Academy announced its plans for an unprecedented gathering of the entire AMPAS membership next month, Academy CEO stated Dawn Hudson that the chief purpose of the meeting was to discuss what the organization does “the other 364 days of the year.” And right now, the biggest item on that list is the Academy Museum.

That, of course, is a project generating excitement among more than just industry insiders. It’s hard to believe that Los Angeles doesn’t have its own film-themed museum, and the Academy plans to fill the gap in grand style. A spiffy new website was launched yesterday that lays out plans for the 290,000-square-foot temple to Hollywood history in more detail, and it’s looking increasingly impressive.

The proposed design, an extension of the famous Wilshire May Company Building, has been drawn up by renowned architect Renzo Piano, whose other global icons include the Pompidou Center in Paris and, more recently, London’s Shard skyscraper. I know not everyone is a fan of his glass-globe design for the museum, but credit to the Academy for going bold on this one — situated right next to LACMA, it’s clearly aiming for landmark status.

What’s inside, meanwhile, should be just as exciting. The museum component, of course, contains multiple galleries for the Academy’s vast collection of movie memorabilia (a small sampling of which is displayed on the site) — including a permanent exhibit themed around the Academy Awards, with an embedded theater screening appropriate movies.

But that, as they say in the informercials, is not all. There will also be an education center, assorted event spaces and a vast Premiere Theater, which will play host both the premieres of major new releases, official Academy screenings, retrospectives, lecturers and symposia. (Could it eventually house the Oscar ceremony itself?) A rooftop dining room with attached terrace will afford spectacular Los Angeles vistas. The “Design” section of the website allows you to examine the proposed layout and multiple additional facilities in more detail.

There’s a lot to play with on the website, and you’re better off heading there and exploring for yourself — though the “sneak peek” video embedded below gives some idea of where they’re going. Having visited the site myself for the first time in January, I particularly liked the gallery detailing the history of the original building (once a top LA department store), which shows just how far the city has come in 60-odd years. Film buffs and architecture geeks alike, go forth and browse. I, for one, can’t wait to revisit LA when it’s done.