THE ACADEMY MUSEUM OF MOTION PICTURES IS FINALLY HERE. WHAT’S SURE TO BE AN L.A. INSTITUTION OPENED ITS DOORS TO THE PUBLIC SEPT. 30. WE CATCH UP WITH BILL KRAMER, DIRECTOR AND PRESIDENT, WHO OVERSEES ALL ASPECTS OF THE SHINY NEW MUSEUM—FROM PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN TO FUNDRAISING AND CREATIVE DIRECTION.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures located on Miracle Mile
The Dolby Family Terrace is located atop the sphere building, offering exemplary views of the City of Angels
Museum Director and President Bill Kramer.
How did you first get involved with the entertainment industry? My background is in arts and culture nonprofit management and fundraising. I started that journey at Columbia University School of the Arts in the late ’90s, and from there I went on to Sundance where I was the first individual giving officer for the Sundance Institute, which was my first taste of being connected to entertainment and film industries. I was so grateful to see that I could navigate and work in an arts and culture environment, in a nonprofit environment, but one that furthered emerging voices, diverse voices in filmmaking, and Sundance really showed me that was possible. I’m a lifelong film history buff and film enthusiast so none of it feels like work to me; this is pure passion.
The 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater.
You raised $100 million in commitments for the project in the course of 10 months at the end of 2012. What changed that made people give this project more money? Having three great co-chairs really helped: Bob Iger, Annette Bening and Tom Hanks truly believed in the project, and Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the Academy, really had a vision—it was clear and that combination really helped. Having a location on the LACMA campus also helped us because it started positioning the project as something that was part of a larger collection of cultural institutions that really interested people. And [Italian architect] Renzo Piano was the best partner for us because he had designed other cultural institutions and had worked on other adaptive reuse projects and a lot of his early work helped us to really envision what was possible. I think a combination of all of those components made this feel much more relevant and much more real.
Pedro Almodóvar collaborated with the museum on a powerful installation
Tell us about the exhibitions at the museum. Over the last two years, we’ve really rethought our core exhibitions to make it much more diverse and nimble and dynamic—celebratory but also very cleareyed about our past. We’re not afraid to have critical conversations about racism, homophobia, sexism in our film industry—we’re doing both, and I’m extremely excited to bring that collective work to the world. The galleries are absolutely gorgeous and dynamic, and very artist-centric, so you will see galleries that we co-curated with Pedro Almodóvar, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Spike Lee, Thelma Schoonmaker and Emmanuel Lubezki. I love bringing the work of our Academy members—some very well known to the public and some not as well known, but should be well known—to the world.
Visit the second floor to find an installation of significant movies and moviemakers
What are some of your favorite, must-see galleries? Spike Lee’s gallery walks you through his personal collection of film-related items and objects... connected to his films and films of artists who inspire him—Melvin Van Peebles, Rossellini, Martin Scorsese, De Sica—so you learn about film history through the lens of Spike Lee, which is historic and epic and exciting, and you’ll also learn about his movies and his moviemaking process, which is exciting. And with Pedro Almodóvar’s gallery, we worked very closely with him to create this dynamic space with 12 different short films, montages that he created that walk you through themes and influences in his movies so you feel like you’re walking through Pedro’s world through his lens. Working with Academy members and film artists to create these spaces has been such an incredible privilege and honor, and because of that you’re truly going to be seeing unique galleries and exhibitions that you cannot see elsewhere. Both of those galleries are part of our core exhibition.
How will you keep the content fresh? Over the last two years, as we’ve redeveloped the core exhibition, there have been many iterations where we’ve presented, taken notes, made changes, re-presented. … It’s not unlike film, a script development process. Thematically, the galleries will stay the same but the content will change over time. It’s designed in a way to bring in different stories. The core exhibition is called Stories of Cinema and there’s no one narrative around film history; we wanted to create a space to move different stories in and out of the spaces over time. We want people to continue to come back and learn more and more about filmmaking and film artists. And there are so many stories to tell.
Photography by: JWPICTURES/©ACADEMY MUSEUM FOUNDATION, HAROLD MINDEL, IWAN BAAN/©IWAN BAAN STUDIOS,