When you think of New York City museums, you probably picture the Met, MoMA, and the Museum of Natural History. While those museums are great, NYC has plenty of lesser-known, niche institutions that are just as worthy of attention. Enter the Museum of the Moving Image, one of my favorite movie-related haunts.
The Museum of the Moving Image is dedicated to the art, technology, and social impact of film, television, and digital media. It’s located in Astoria, Queens and is a short subway ride from Midtown Manhattan. It may feel a bit out-of-the-way to the average tourist, but it’s worth the trip, especially if you’re a movie buff.
The museum is situated next to Kaufman Astoria Studios, where the first two Marx Brothers movies (The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers), The Wiz, All That Jazz, and Goodfellas were filmed. Television series like Sesame Street and Orange is the New Black currently shoot here.
The museum’s core exhibit, Behind the Screen, takes visitors through moving picture history and the elements required to make a film: actor, director, hair and makeup, costume, screenwriter, production design, and promotions. There is a wide variety of fun artifacts on display from movies past and present, so there’s not only a good chance you will find something you recognize, but you may also discover something new.
My favorite feature of Behind the Screen is the interactive experiences that demonstrate elements of the post production process using scenes from a variety of movies, including My Fair Lady, High Noon, and Jurassic Park. At one station you can dub over dialogue, at another you can play around with music, and at another you can mix and match sound effects. There is even an area where you can make your own stop motion animation. Each station (except stop motion) only has one computer, however, so you might have to wait your turn.
The museum also rotates special exhibitions. Last year there was a major exhibition on Mad Men, and a permanent exhibition and gallery honoring Jim Henson is currently under construction. On my most recent to the museum this summer, the special exhibition was To the Moon and Beyond: Graphic Films and the Inception of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.’ It features rarely seen concept art and correspondence between the film’s consultants and director Stanley Kubrick. The exhibit closes November 13, 2016.
The museum also hosts regular screenings of classic and contemporary films in its large theater, and purchase of a screening ticket can be applied toward same-day museum admission. I’ve had a blast seeing movies like Modern Times (1936) and An American in Paris (1951) here.
If you love movies or want to learn more about them, check out this gem of a museum. It’s perfect for all ages and a great place to bring family, friends, or a date. For more information, visit the museum’s website: http://www.movingimage.us.