A Day at the Academy Museum

I love going to the LACMA campus along the Miracle Mile. Everything in that vicinity just screams “Los Angeles.” As long as I’ve lived down here, it’s been an ongoing goal to hang there more. I love strolling the La Brea Tar Pits as I contemplate taking a silly photo of the LACMA street lights (I usually do). It’s incredibly urban yet has a distinct neighborhood charm. 

The Academy of Motion Pictures Museum opened in the old Sears building last year. The museum has been decades in the making. Even Mary Pickford and Walt Disney, respectively, were tied to the project back in the day. Each detail of the museum from its architecture to interior design are works of art. 

If you know me, you know I’m pretty fearless when taking Mabel out and about. She may not even be 18 months but she’s had her share of road trips and adventures. Despite this, Mike and I encountered several “hiccups” on this excursion. 

Visiting the Academy Museum with a Toddler

The Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby is the gateway to the Academy Museum. The lobby is inviting and full of chatter. Fanny’s, a lively restaurant and bar is to the right along with admissions. To the left are security check-in and the required gift shop. Although several items were unique and the small assortment of records from Amoeba fitting, a lot of the baubles are just that. But with a Hollywood price. A key chain or magnet could easily set you back $25. 

Their security check is pretty standard. They do check bags but seem to have some empathy for the monstrous diaper bags. There’s also a health check in effect so be prepared to show a vaccine card or negative test against COVID. 

We decided to start at the top and work our way down. Undoubtedly, we were equally most excited to see the Hayao Miyazaki exhibit. Although it’s since closed, the exhibition served as their inaugural temporary gallery. Artifacts and original documents from such beloved films as Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro filled the space. 

The Stories of Cinema

For me, the Stories of Cinema is the bread and butter of the Academy Museum. It spans three floors and each level gives visitors an in-depth look at some of the most classic films in history. It starts in the lobby and no admission is needed to enjoy the first-floor experience. It’s an immersive media installation that starts at the very beginnings of film to popular movies of today. The experience spans 700 films in a 13-minute multi-channel presentation. 

For level two, they pull out all of the stops in my books. Here, visitors can get up close and personal with the most famous pair of shoes in movie history. Or, at least one of the pairs. The Art of Movie Making: the Wizard of Oz serves as enough to pass as a “movie museum” if you ask me. While numerous pairs of the ruby slippers were produced, the pair at the Academy Museum is believed to be the one Judy Garland wore in her “There’s no place like home” ending scene. 

Something else that left me in awe was seeing one of the actual cameras used to film the Technicolor classic. There are also beautiful photographs like this one below of Margaret Hamilton (AKA the Wicked Witch of the West). While I wish it were a permanent exhibit, remember that it will close on September 25th, 2022

The Third Level of the Academy Museum

With these bittersweet closures come exciting new installments. Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 will open in August. “It offers the public a chance to learn more about how Black performers and filmmakers have helped define cinema in the United States.” says the museum.

Concluding on the third floor, the Stories of Cinema had me majorly starstruck. Within these walls, we found props and characters including ET and C-3PO. It reminded me a lot of the Museum of Pop Culture. Despite the crowds and a dark room, it didn’t stop Mabel from trying to run everywhere. We utilized the stroller!

After loads of exploring with a very rambunctious little one, we decided it was break time. We loved the ambiance and views on the Dolby Family Terrace. Since it was outdoors, we assumed Mabel could enjoy her PB&J. Nope. All food and drink MUST be enjoyed outside of the museum. The Family Terrace is simply an observation deck. The views are definitely worth it and ideal for those looking for an “Insta Worthy” shot of LA. 

The Oscar Experience

Next up, we took advantage of our access to the Oscar Experience. For an additional fee per ticket, guests can hold an actual Academy Award and have their “acceptance speech” recorded. It was interesting to learn tidbits from the staff, who were extremely cordial and patient with a cranky Mabel. My downside to the Oscar Experience? Face masks must be on during the recording and we weren’t entirely sure where to even look. Click here to see how ours turned out! 

The Academy Museum is certainly an appropriate addition to the LACMA campus. Although at times it felt “stiff,” it offers what LA has been surprisingly lacking for decades: a haven for film buffs and tourists alike. 

(*Disclosure: I received press passes to visit the Academy Museum on behalf of this story. All opinions are my own.)

  1. Bobbie

    July 8, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    Best blog yet. You made me want to journey from Laughlin, NV to L. A. Just to see this attraction.

    1. AlongComesMary

      July 15, 2022 at 8:24 pm

      That is so sweet of you! Thank you so much.

  2. Stacey Wittig

    July 12, 2022 at 10:19 am

    Looks like a fun day! Thanks for sharing!

    1. AlongComesMary

      July 15, 2022 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks for reading!! xoxo

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