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With $100 Million in Donations, Academy Moving Forward With New Museum

LACMA West Exterior - H 2011
Museum Associates/LACMA

The $250 million project, which will revive the old May Co. building, is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is moving forward with its plans for a new $250 million movie museum, having reached its initial fund-raising  goal of $100 million, the organization said Thursday.

Scheduled to open in 2016 at the site of the old May Co. building at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the Academy Museum, dedicated to the history and ongoing development of motion pictures, will be designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali.

The Academy's board of governors approved the plans unanimously at a meeting Wednesday night. The Academy and the Los Angeles Countyl Museum of Art, which owns the May Co. building, have agreed to a 55-year lease, with a 55-year option to renew, the Academy said.

Launched in early 2012 by campaign chair Bob Iger and co-chairs Annette Bening and Tom Hanks, the campaign has raised $100 million through private donations toward a $250 million goal, which includes an endowment that will support the museum’s operations. “The early response to our fund-raising campaign has been outstanding and is incredibly encouraging,” Iger said.

The campaign chairs and their families have all made donations, along with such past Academy governors, presidents and their families as Bill Condon and Jack Morrissey, Richard and Bonnie Cook, Rob and Shari Friedman, Sid and Nancy Ganis, Jim and Ann Gianopulos, Gale Anne Hurd, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, Hawk and Molly Koch, John and Nancy Lasseter, Walter Mirisch and Lawrence Mirisch, Bob and Kay Rehme and Tom and Madeleine Sherak.

The Academy also reported it has received donations from the major film studios, industry guilds and several individuals and foundations.

Located on the LACMA campus, the nearly-300,000-square-foot Academy Museum will fully restore the Wilshire and Fairfax streetfront facades of the 1938 Streamline Moderne building and will include a spherical glass addition at the back of the original building, the Academy said. Designed to represent the marriage of art and technology, the addition will house a state-of-the-art theater, which replaces an extension made to the structure in 1946.

“The design for the museum will finally enable this wonderful building to be animated and contribute to the city after sitting empty for so long,” said Piano. “I am very inspired by the Academy’s name and mission, the idea of the arts and sciences working together to create films. Our design will preserve the May Co. building’s historic public profile while simultaneously signaling that the building is taking on a new life that celebrates both the industry and art form that this city created and gave to the world.”

The museum will include exhibitions and galleries, special screening rooms and an interactive education center with demonstration labs. It will draw from the Academy's extensive collections and archives, which include more than 140,000 films, 10 million photographs, 42,000 original film posters, 10,000 production drawings, costumes, props and moviemaking equipment as well as behind-the-scenes personal accounts from artists and innovators – the Academy’s membership – working in the motion picture industry.

"The Academy museum will be a landmark that both our industry and our city can be immensely proud of," said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “I appreciate the unwavering support of our board, our members and especially our campaign chairs, all of whom have led us through this crucial stage."

The film studios and companies that have contributed include The Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Lionsgate.

Individual and foundation support has come from Cecilia DeMille Presley, Lucasfilm Foundation, Shirley Temple Black and Family, Ken and Carol Schultz, The Mary Pickford Foundation, Alan and Cindy Horn, Frank and Fay Mancuso, Bob and Eva Shaye, The Four Friends Foundation, the Film Music Foundation, and Jerry and Linda Bruckheimer.

Corporate partners include Dolby Laboratories, Panavision, Technicolor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Entertainment Partners/Central Casting, Girard-Perregaux Watches and The New York Times.

The guilds supporting the museum include the DGA, PGA, SAG-AFTRA and the WGA West.