Tourism

Academy Museum goes more than $100m over budget

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is set to open to the public, following a three-year delay.

Featuring props, scripts and highlights from some of cinema’s best-loved motion pictures, including Alien (1979), The Big Lebowski (1998) and Casablanca (1942), the Los Angeles-based museum aims to be the world’s premier institution dedicated to the art and science of film.

A love letter to cinema, the Academy Museum will likewise feature the restored Saban Building – formerly known as the May Company building from 1939 – at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles.

(Academy Museum Foundation/L’Autre Image)

Speaking at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony, actor Tom Hanks announced the museum will be open to the public on Monday, 14 December 2020 – eight years after it was announced.

“There is plenty of culture to be found in the City of Angels,” Hanks said. “But there has never been a museum dedicated to the art and science of motion pictures.”

Hanks made the announcement in his capacity as museum trustee and co-chair of the Academy Museum campaign, along with co-chair Annette Bening and chair Bob Iger.

A screen-used pair of Dorothy’s slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939) will also be on display. (Academy Museum Foundation/Joshua White)

Academy Museum to open over budget after build setbacks

The Academy Museum recently announced that 95 per cent of its $388 million pre-opening campaign has been finalised, and installation of four floors of immersive, innovative exhibitions is now beginning.

Designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum will include the 1,000-seat Geffen Theatre, which will be housed within a raised concrete orb, topped with a glass covering and rented out for premieres.

Geffen Theatre: ©Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Academy Museum Foundation/ L’Autre Image)

Another 288-seat theatre will be in the basement, alongside a restaurant and galleries.

The eagerly awaited museum will, however, open after a three-year delay US$100 million ($148.6 million) over budget.

Museum director Bill Kramer, who was hired in late September and started full-time in January, told Variety that costs had ballooned over “many years”, with construction of the Renzo Piano-designed museum proving more difficult than expected.

“The sphere was a very complicated piece of architecture to build,” he told Variety, adding: “We’re thrilled with it. It’s beautiful. It’s exactly what we wanted.”

The museum was originally budgeted for $388 million ($576.6 million), but the cost of the build has swelled to $482 million ($716.2 million), up 24 per cent in total costs.

The Academy is expected to launch a US$100 million bond offering to cover the cost overruns and will now have to undertake a second “post-opening” fundraising campaign.

“I think it’s very safe to say we have a grip on the budget,” Kramer told Variety. “We have a strong sense of schedule and timeline.”

Details will continue to unfold as the museum gets closer to opening. The Academy Museum has also provided a detailed look at the layout of the museum, which you can view below.


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