The global capital of the motion picture will soon have its own museum dedicated to the art and science behind creating movies. Designed by Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, the Motion Picture Academy Museum will be located in the historic May Company Department Store building next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) campus on the Miracle Mile. The adaptive reuse of the landmark building will help preserve the architecture, while an addition of a large glass-domed theater will set the museum apart.
The Motion Picture Academy Museum will take over the space previously inhabited by the LACMA West and what was previously the May Co. Department Store, which opened in 1939. The original façade of the building was designated a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1992 and the new museum’s design will work to restore and preserve the building’s exterior. Over the last few years, the LACMA campus has undergone a significant expansion under the vision of Renzo Piano who designed both the Resnick Pavilion and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. The Motion Picture Academy Museum will allow Renzo Piano to complete his vision for the campus.
The new movie museum will largely use the existing building as is but will include a significant addition on the north side of the building. This addition is a large glass dome with a large movie theatre in the center and topped with a light-filled gallery with views of the ocean and surrounding Hollywood. Inside, the museum will host an education center, permanent exhibition space for the Academy’s collection of movie memorabilia, a film history gallery, accessory screening rooms, and much more. While details regarding sustainability beyond the adaptive reuse of the existing building are unclear, we can expect any project by Renzo Piano to make careful considerations towards innovation and energy efficiency.
“The design for the museum will finally enable this wonderful building to be animated and contribute to the city after sitting underutilized for so long. I am very inspired by the Academy’s mission, and the idea of the arts and sciences working together to create films,” explains Renzo Piano. “Our design will preserve the Wilshire May Company building’s historic public profile while simultaneously signaling that the building is taking on a new life—a life that celebrates both the industry and art form that this city created and gave to the world.”
Images ©Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Studio Pali Fekete architects, AMPAS