Academy president Tom Sherak on the new movie museum: 'For the first time, we're going to have a place to show this stuff'

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Yesterday, I posted a video exclusive tour of the Walt Disney Archives, and I couldn’t help but noticed that many readers wanted a chance to be able to see the one-of-a-kind movie artifacts stored inside it (and several other studio and private cinema archives throughout Los Angeles) in some kind of museum.

Well, that wish is already on its way to becoming a reality. Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Disney chief Bob Iger, Annette Bening, and Tom Hanks will head up a campaign to raise funds for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The ultimate aim, Academy president Tom Sherak tells EW, is to create a “first class museum that will enable the entire industry to show its wares and ways.” The facility will be housed in the May Co. building in Los Angeles (pictured), currently the home to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is partnering with the Academy on the project. Sherak says the fundraising will begin in earnest at first of the new year, with plans to open the museum in three to five years. Sherak stresses that the Academy will donate a $50 million endowment to the museum to get it started. “To us, this is real. This is a dream that we’re going to make come true.”

You can check out the rest of our interview below: 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was surprised something like this didn’t already exist here. How did this finally all come together?
TOM SHERAK: Tell me how far back you want to go. [Chuckles] Back in I guess it was 2005 or ’06, we decided to see if there was a viability to build a museum in Los Angeles for the Academy. We hired an architect, and [we] were getting ready to start a campaign to raise money. The day we were meeting to set that up, the stock market went into a tailspin that we’ll be talking about for decades and decades. So everything had to stop.

So it had stopped until about a little over a year ago, when Michael Govan who runs LACMA met past [Academy] president Sid Ganis and had this idea to use the main company building for a [movie] museum. We looked at the building and said, “Wow, I guess we should make this happen.” And now we’re getting ready to move forward with it.

What is the mission statement for the museum itself?
We want people from all over the world who come here, and people who live in Los Angeles, to be able to go to a first-class motion picture museum that will enable the entire industry to show its wares and ways. Right now, a lot of stuff sits in closets, sits in drawers, sits in vaults. We want to display the one marketable product that the world shares: Movies! Our mission is that those crafts that make up the movies, we’ll now be able to show the world how it was done, how it is done, and how it’s going to be done.

Where will the exhibits from the museum be drawing from?
The Academy have an extensive archive. We’ve been collecting things for years and years and years. And by the way, we have been blessed by people who have had great success in our industry giving us their possessions — their scripts, their pictures, everything they’ve done — and we have it stored in I don’t know how many different warehouses.

We have Gregory Peck’s original script from To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s all annotated. Every scene he’s worked out in his mind, he’s written it down in that script. You see that, you go through it, and you say, “Oh my god, it’s in a drawer! I want to show it to people.” We’ve got so much stuff that’s been donated by so many different people, so many great legends. For the first time, we’re going to have a place to show this stuff.

Read more:
EW’s special tour of Disney’s archives (see items from ‘Pirates,’ ‘Lost,’ ‘Snow White’) and studio backlot — EXCLUSIVE

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