Hidden in plain sight along the busy corridor of Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills, California, is The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This is the organization that has handed out the most prestigious awards in film, The Academy Awards, affectionately called the Oscars, since 1929.
What many people don’t know is that within this building are two galleries and a theater that are open to the public.
The Academy’s Grand Lobby Gallery is on the first floor of the building while the other gallery within the space is located on the fourth floor of the building.
The galleries host exhibits that change every three months or so.
On a recent visit to The Academy, I was able to take in an exhibit of photographs that showcased stills from the last eight decades of movie-making. An array of behind-the-scenes shots that included a mixture of publicity photos, reference stills and glamourous star portraits graced the walls. Some color, some black and white, the exhibit, entitled “Up from the Vault: 85 Years of Treasures from the Warner Bros. Photo Lab” did not disappoint.
The photos included images of iconic stars like Judy Garland, Vivien Leigh, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, as well as Doris Day and even the kids from the “Harry Potter” series.
Many of the photos were produced by on-set photographers, but there are some candids taken by various actors and actresses themselves.
In the Fourth Floor Gallery, a very detailed retrospective of director Ingmar Bergman was on display.
The exhibit, entitled “Ingmar Bergman: Truth and Lies”, provided a unique look at Bergman’s creative body of work, which included both film and theatre. Also Included in the exhibit are glimpses into his often turbulent private life.
Bergman was nominated for nine Oscars for writing, directing or producing. He won three for Best Foreign film and was awarded The Academy’s Thalberg Award in 1970.
The exhibit was very extensive with photos, film clips, costumes, journals, set models, sketches and letters.
One interesting artifact is a fan letter to Bergman. The letter was written by world famous director Woody Allen.
Also housed in the Wilshire building is the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, which seats over 1000 patrons.
The theater is the site for several events per month, including film screenings and lectures.
The Academy also hosts events in another theater. That venue, The Linwood Dunn Theater, is located in Hollywood and also is ideal for public events.
One of the best things about the Academy exhibits is that they’re FREE. Yes, both the Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor exhibits are completely free and open to the public.
Events in the theaters are low cost as well, with many running in the $5 range.
Quite the entertainment bargain!
Overall, while The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences may sound like it’s only available to Hollywood’s elite, it is in fact open to everyone.
With amazing exhibits and events, it should be on every movie fan’s must-see list.
The Motion Picture Academy is located at
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Academy Gallery hours are:
Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m.
Both galleries are closed Monday.
To be notified of Academy events, you can subscribe online at www.oscars.org or by sending an e-mail with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “mailing list”.
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