Space Age Museum Touches Down
January 11, 2011 / Astoria / Queens Buzz. The Museum Of The Moving Image, after about five years in transition, unveiled their expanded and redone museum to the delight of the press. The renovation greatly expanded the screening, gallery and interactive space of the museum; while renovating the space containing the museum's original exhibits. In total, the renovation nearly doubled the space of the museum to nearly 100,000 square feet.
The leading architect of the firm handling the renovation talked about 'transporting' people from their everyday lives in the same way that good cinema does. Based upon my own experience in the new Museum Of The Moving Image, I'd venture to say that they met that objective quite nicely.
Click here to read our report and view our slide show of the newly remodeled Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria. The museum hosted a grand opening gala on Saturday, January 15th.
Space Age Museum Touches Down
January 11, 2011 / Astoria / Queens Buzz. Continued / Use Search Function To Find Story Introduction.
Flowing Architecture & Modern Materials
This weekend, starting January 15th the newly remodeled museum will be open to the public. Walking through the building itself is a actually kind of cool experience. The stairways are like spaceship passage ways from one deck of the ship to another. The sleek polyurethane veneer reflects the light and dulled images of those around you. And the lines of the building seem to glide along in a linear fashion without being box-like. One dances from one room to the next, enjoying the tranformative, other-worldliness of the total architectural experience. Kudos to Leeser Architecture. A photo looking directly into the walkway leading the the main theater is shown to your right.
Renovations Complement & Contrast Original Space
There are other interesting aspects of the design of the museum too. Most of the new space has been used for community video experiences. Included among the community experiences is a long video mural in the lobby, which is at first engrossing and eventually fades back into the overall space age environment. It's a bit reminiscent of someone's large flat screen television playing in the background in their home, albeit with the sound turned off, and more akin to watching something on A&E than anything on commercial television. A photo of the video mural in the lobby entrance is shown to your right.
This communal experience is in contrast to the original structure of the museum which was early 20th century, more box-like and which housed a plethora of moving image related objects such as iconic television and movie cameras; costumes and masks; video arcade games and photos. Some of these exhibits have been redone but they're largely intact as they have been throughout the renovation. We won't cover them much in this report as we had posted an earlier report about them which you can view by clicking this link into the pre-renovated Museum Of The Moving Image.
Main Theater - Renovated Museum Of The Moving Image
One of the areas of the pre-renovated museum that has been significantly modified is the large main theater. The seating is very comfortable, reminiscent of the Captain's Chair on Star Trek. The walls of the room are comprised of a vibrant blue in geodesic shapes that lend an other-worldliness to the theater. The main stage is covered by a colorful tapestry, full of symmetrical geometrical shapes. The main screen lies behind the tapestry, which I didn't see. A photo of the main theater is shown to your left.
New Screening Amphitheater - Renovated MOMI
The second floor of the new section of the museum contains an open theater that enables one to easily slip into or slip out of a video screening. This lends a contemporary feel to the theater as it's structured to accomodate looping videos, in lieu of the old fashioned video start and end times. Hence it's likely to be more attractive to the ADD generation. But the screening room is also flexible enough to accomodate those who desire a more absorbed viewing, as they can float to the front of the screening room for a more immersive experience.
Dolls Vs Dictators - Original Work By Local Artist
I had lunch with one of the artists featured in the grand re-opening of the renovated museum. Martha Colburn of Long Island City spent the better part of the past year creating a video about ... Dolls Vs Dictators [hence the name]. I asked her what her intent was in creating the work. She succinctly replied, "To rid the world of dictators." A still of the film, Dolls Vs Dictators is shown to your right.
After the tour, I returned to view Martha's work in its entirety. There I witnessed, in an eleven minute montage, Martha's brave dolls overthrowing all - or nearly all - of the world's most evil dictators. Hmm, I thought to myself, better be careful, this woman means what she says.
New Gallery Of Video Art - Moving Image Museum
On the third floor of the renovated building there's an interactive video gallery occupying 4,100 square feet. As I rose to the third floor through a completely white stairwell, I entered onto the top floor of the proverbial space ship. The room is large, has an airy feel to it with completely black walls. There were about six or seven exhibits located in this space, a few of which I'll talk about in a moment. This is truly a 21st century video art gallery, cognizant of the new digital era which, in many respects, has only recently begun.
Video Art - Finally Coming Into Its OwnCathedral. The exhibits chosen for this grand re-opening were worthy of the new architectural platform. The Cathedral is a kaleidoscope of video footage shot in a Toronto mall. It's as fascinating as it is beautiful. It's a mix of color, shapes and people ... always in motion .. always changing .. never dull. Had I more time I could have sat watching it for a long, long while. But our guide pulled us forward. A photo of the Cathedral video is shown above to your left.
RMB City. The next exhibit was created in China. It's an interactive piece that allows the viewer to interact with the video art as if it were [and it is] a game using a Wii remote control piece. It explores Chinese antiquity as well as present day China with themes that touch on capitalism, political systems and culture. I imagine museum visitors might startfighting over the controls for this one. A photo of the interactive RMB City is shown above to the right.
RealTime UnReal. This is another interactive work. One person [I see another potential visitor conflict scenario] steps into the area where the installation becomes 'aware' of them. The visitor then moves around within the cordoned space and in doing so - sets the art work moving. The art itself is a video of the inside of the Museum Of The Moving Image, so as the visitor moves around the space, it's as if they are walking through the museum on the video screen. Up the stairs, across the hall, and into an exhibit. Very cool. The interactive artwork demonstration is shown in the photo to your left.
Augmented Sculpture / Night Journey / Into The Forest. Augmented Sculpture lies at the end of the white stairwell that led to the third floor. The sculpture is a well-defined, rectangular structure that is continually visually re-defined by an automated moving light show. Like Cathedral, it's the sort of motion and transformation that I found fascinating. The Augmented Sculpture exhibit is shown in the photo to your right.
There were two other exhibits, Night Journey and Into The Forest, that were also of some interest. They were both more amorphous visually and given the time constraints I'm afraid you'll have to explore them on your own.
Museum Of The Moving Image - Transformed Intact
I was told by Carl Goodman that The Museum Of The Moving Image has 135,000 objects in its collection. About 1,400 of them are on display during any single visit. He informed me that The Museum Of The Moving Image is not a collector of old or new film footage, but rather a museum of the objects used in the creation, production and promotion of the moving image.
There are a number of additional areas in the renovated Museum Of The Moving Image that are worth mentioning. Perhaps one that will see the most use is the street level amphitheater that has a separate entrance via the as-yet-unfinished courtyard. This area will be used to accommodate school groups.
Prior to the renovation the Museum Of The Moving Image was hosting 30,000 school children per year. With the renovation that number will double to 60,000 and the school groups come from the metro area, the rest of the nation and even from other nations.
Two other spaces are worth mentioning: 1) a special silent movie screening room which includes an electronic piano with which a live musician will accompany the film .. not quite, but similar to the 'olden days' and 2) there are two classrooms / meeting rooms which can be used to host visitors as well as for museum / community related functions.
Museum Of The Moving Image - Brief History
The Museum Of The Moving Image opened to the public in this building in 1988. This was after almost a decade of fundraising and renovations to the original building. The Museum Of The Moving Image set out to provide a location where the art, history and technology of the moving image would be displayed and discussed. Today the museum has amassed a collection of 135,000 objects and with the completion of this renovation will likely become one of the avante garde centers for the display of video art. The entrance to the Museum Of The Moving Image in Queens is shown in the photo to your right.
Museum Of The Moving Image - Grand Re-Opening Programs
To celebrate the re-opening of The Museum Of The Moving Image, the museum has scheduled a whole host of special programs. Some of them have already been discussed in the report above, including the exhibits in the video gallery.
Other special events / exhibits include the showing of film classics, guest appearances by famous people like Bill Cosby, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. And more. We will post select events in the Queens Events section of this site. The lobby of the Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria Queens is shown in the photo to your right. In the photo, there's a cafe to your far left and through the windows there will soon be a beautiful courtyard.
Photos - Renovated Museum Of Moving Image
The following slide show was taken during the press event for the opening of the newly renovated Museum Of The Moving Image in Astoria. The progression for this slide show is entering into the lobby which has a long video mural, the cafe and courtyard are located at the rear of the lobby. Then into the large theater where we were informed about the renovation and given some of the history of the museum and the people who have been instrumental in its development. Then onto a tour of the rest of the renovation which included the open theater in the second floor, the video gallery on the third floor, the exhibits and galleries which existed prior to the renovation [use the search function on this site to view them in fuller detail, albeit without the remodeled appearance]. And then back into the main lobby and cafe where I was able to interview one of the artists featured for the opening.
People Featured In The Slide Show
The following people are featured in the slide show. They are mentioned in the order they were photographed. Thomas Leeser - Architect [DSC01520 - 1], Carl Goodman - Director Designate [DSC01524], David Schwartz - Chief Curator [DSC01525], Rochelle Slovin - Director who is resigning in February [DSC01527] and Martha Colburn - LIC Video Artist [DSC01670]. We started photographing a bit late and hence Herbert S. Schlosser - Chairman of the Board who also spoke at the event is not shown.
Spaces / Exhibits Featured In The Slide Show
The following spaces and exhibits are featured in the slide show. They are mentioned in the order in which they were photographed. Main Theater [DSC01509 & 1511], Video Screening Amphitheater [DSC01537], Dolls Vs Dictators [DSC01537 - 44 & 70], Augmented Sculpture [DSC01546], Cathedral [DSC01547 - 54 & 68 ], RMB City [DSC01555 - 1558], The Night Journey [DSC01561], Into The Forest [DSC01562 - 6], RealTime Unreal [DSC01573 - 77], Tut Theater [1626 - 30] and Meeting Room & Screening Room [DSC01643 - 9].
Thanks To The People Who Made This Happen
We would like to thank all of the people who helped envision and realize this phenomenal museum for Astoria. Many of them were featured speakers at the press conference who we photographed and included in the slide show above.
It seems special mention could be given to each of them, but it's worth noting that Rochelle Slovin has been a driving force within the museum since its inception in 1981; some 30 years ago. She plans to retire in February 2011. Rochelle Slovin is shown speaking in the main theater in the photo to your left.
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