Backstage with Sandy Kenyon: Academy museum is a dream come true

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Sandy goes backstage at the construction of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, a dream more than 90 years in the making

Along "The Miracle Mile" in Los Angeles, a historic building that once housed The May Co. department store is being restored, transformed and connected to a sphere designed by famed architect Renzo Piano.

It will soon become the first major museum devoted entirely to film.

"When the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) first started, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and other leaders in Hollywood, they wanted to build a museum," said Katharine DeShaw, deputy director of advancement and external relations at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. "That was in 1927. So here we are, 90 years-plus later, and we're actually coming to life."

It's a heady mix of new and old, which will also allow visitors to step behind the silver screen to see how magic is made.

"People will experience the movies," Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson said. "You will see screens of your favorite films. You will see artifacts from your favorite movies. You'll be able to see the ruby red slippers. But you will see the ruby red slippers in the context of The Wizard of Oz."

The sphere will also house a 1,000-seat theater.

"This is a new type of museum for film," Museum Director Kerry Brougher said. "You can't really understand what cinema is all about unless you approach it from a whole number of different ways. And one of those is, of course, to have major motion picture theaters right in the musuem. And then a whole series of exhibitions, public programs and, of course, a wonderful observation deck that looks out towards the Hollywood Hills."

It's been a gleam in the eye of Hollywood for almost a century, and now, this dream is just one year away from being realized.

"We're probably about 2/3 of the way through construction," DeShaw said. "We open about a year from now, and every single day, we see new activity, new changes."

Hudson says the idea is to appeal to film fans and casual moviegoers -- and everyone in between.

"People come to Los Angeles, to Hollywood, the home of movie making, they really want to learn about movies or feel movies," she said. "And this will be that place for them."

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