The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Opens in Los Angeles

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is, after many delays and cost overruns, finally opening its museum dedicated to film history.Credit…Justin Chung for The New York Times

A museum in Amsterdam is contemptuously known as the Bathtub because it resembles one. Berliners refer to their city’s architecturally adventurous arts center as the Pregnant Oyster. Unfortunate nicknames for a prominent museum in France include the Smurf House.

And now Los Angeles has … the Death Star?

The long-delayed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will finally open today on Wilshire Boulevard. It’s a seven-story, $484 million temple to cinema that mixes cerebral (a lavish Hayao Miyazaki retrospective) with showbiz (a high-tech simulation of what it feels like to accept an Oscar). Adult tickets cost $25. The Oscars Experience is $15 extra. Entry-time reservations are required.

If nothing else, Angelenos now have somewhere to take Hollywood-fascinated visitors that does not involve the dreaded Hollywood & Highland shopping mall or the sticky, stinky Walk of Fame.

Renzo Piano, the Italian architect who designed the Academy Museum, has one plea, however. It involves a nickname for the complex, which includes a 26-million-pound concrete-and-glass spherical building. In the eyes of many beholders, the globe resembles Darth Vader’s planet-destroying space station from “Star Wars.”

“I have one thing to ask you, a big favor,” Piano said at a media event last week: Don’t call it the Death Star. “It is a soap bubble.” He continued: “Yes, a soap bubble! It is the now and perhaps the fragile future. But this one does not burst. It lasts and lasts.”

The Los Angeles Times, appraising the sphere in the planning stage in 2014 and in completion this month, unfavorably likened it to a “giant albino Pac-Man” and favorably to “a giant eyeball.”

Piano, 84, did not seem to appreciate either sobriquet, although he was more hospitable to a suggestion by Tom Hanks, who helped raise funds for the museum and also spoke at the media event. How about Magic Lantern, a nod to antique image projectors? “That’s what this building looks like to me when I drive by,” Hanks said.

But the architect was not going quietly.

“A dirigible? That’s OK,” Piano said, with a hint of exhaustion. “Call it a Zeppelin to take you to a different world.”

He paused for emphasis. “Or why not a soap bubble?”

Brooks Barnes is a reporter for The New York Times who covers Hollywood.

Ron Elliott at Tomales Bay, in Marin County.Credit…Kenny Hurtado for The New York Times

The rest of the news

  • Swimming in an uncertain sea: Ron Elliott, an underwater filmmaker, describes what he has learned from his encounters with sharks off the coast of San Francisco.

  • Free broadband: Many Californians are eligible for free high-speed internet, reports The Los Angeles Times.

  • How to fight better: The pandemic has caused more arguments among couples.

  • Britney Spears case: For the first time since 2008, the pop star will be without her father’s oversight, a Los Angeles judge ruled on Wednesday.

  • Homelessness: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed seven new laws on Wednesday aimed at addressing the state’s homelessness crisis, The Associated Press reports.

  • Coronavirus: All health care workers must be vaccinated by today under a new state mandate, CalMatters reports.

    Plus, the Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla provides the latest on California’s Delta surge in Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing.


  • School vaccine mandates: The San Diego Unified School District will require all staff members and students eligible for Covid-19 vaccines to be fully immunized by Dec. 20, The Times of San Diego reports.

    At Los Angeles Unified, officials have already mandated vaccines for students and staff members, yet many remain unvaccinated, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • No shots, no service: Los Angeles officials delayed a vote on Wednesday to require proof of vaccination for restaurants, movie theaters and gyms. The measure is expected to pass next week, KTLA reports.


  • Covid-19 surge: Though Covid-19 numbers are falling in much of the state, they remain high in the Central Valley, The Guardian reports.


  • Weather warning: There is increased fire danger in parts of Napa and Sonoma Counties through this morning.

  • Fawn fire: Officials on Wednesday lifted all evacuation orders from a wildfire that has destroyed dozens of homes near Shasta Lake, The Associated Press reports.

  • Mask mandate: San Francisco officials are considering loosening the city’s masking laws, NBC Bay Area reports.

  • Low Covid-19 numbers: Bay Area hospitals have become a lifeline for patients across the country whose local medical facilities are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients, NBC Bay Area reports.

  • Flavored tobacco ban: San Jose has banned flavored tobacco products, making it the largest city in the state to do so, NBC Bay Area reports.

  • Chinese New Year Parade: San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade will return in 2022 after taking a hiatus for the pandemic. All volunteers and participants must be vaccinated and wear a mask, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

What we’re eating

Chewy Earl Grey cookies.

Where we’re traveling

Today’s travel tip comes from Kathleen Z. Snider, who recommends Carmel-by-the-Sea:

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to [email protected]. We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera.Credit…John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

And before you go, some good news

California made a strong showing in this year’s MacArthur Foundation awards, with six of the 25 grant recipients coming from the Golden State.

Announced this week, the winners include Safiya Noble, a digital media scholar in Los Angeles; Jacqueline Stewart, a film scholar in Los Angeles; Joshua Miele, a technology designer from Berkeley; and Michelle Monje, a neuroscientist in Palo Alto.

Unusually, two of this year’s fellows are married — the filmmakers Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, who live in Pasadena.

The couple were evaluated and selected separately but informed together, Cecilia Conrad, managing director of the program, told The Times.

“It was a lot of fun to call them,” Conrad said.

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back in your inbox tomorrow.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Red or rosé (4 letters).

Soumya Karlamangla, Steven Moity and Mariel Wamsley contributed to California Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


Related Articles

Back to top button