THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The past? That starts on the third floor with illusions created by simple light and movement. Looking for the present and future? Check out the digital media gallery on the first level.
Since it opened in the late 1980s, the American Museum of the Moving Image has tried to present the entire field of moving images in entertainment. That includes film and television, but it also means video games, digital images, electronic editing, animation and more.
The museum, at 35th Ave. at 36th St. in Astoria, housed in part of an old movie studio complex, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this month with numerous screenings and other events. The centerpiece is a free admission day on Saturday that features a showing of "Singing in the Rain," the first movie ever presented there.
The events mark 15 years of collecting the old - moviemaking equipment, costumes, sheet music and photographs (check out the doll used in the head-turning scene from "The Exorcist") - while exploring the new - animation techniques, digital editing and sound.
"I'm amazed by the place," said Ken Jacobs, a filmmaker whose experimental work has been shown there. "It's a cinema utopia."
"We specialize, really, in behind the scenes, in the world of the work behind the screen," said Rochelle Slovin, founding and current director of the museum.
The museum emerged from a project to rehabilitate the Astoria Studios, built by Paramount in the 1920s. By 1977, the studios had fallen into disrepair and a foundation was formed to get them back into use. The concept for a museum focusing on the history and power of the visual image came out of that, and it opened its doors on Sept. 10, 1988.
Museum officials say more than 1 million people have visited since, with annual attendance now about 80,000 (at least 20,000 of them school children).
Planning big growth
Within the next decade, officials want to double the museum's size, and hope to break ground on the first phase as early as next spring. The museum's permanent collection occupies 17,000 square feet with 1,800 square feet more used for changing exhibits.
Slovin said the museum is unique because of its scope, and called it "the foremost collection of this kind anywhere, in terms of an integrated collection of motion pictures, television and digital media."
Even when they were searching for a name for the place, years before it opened, those connected to the project knew they didn't want to call it only a film and television museum, because the technology was changing, Slovin said.
"We understood even at the beginning that movies, television, video, computers were moving closer and closer together," she said.
Originally published on September 10, 2003
Last edited by Punzie; June 30th, 2007 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Changed title to update --> 2007