Smithsonian's Lemelson Center to Spotlight Hollywood's History of Innovation
The Academy Awards would be much less colorful without the innovations in 1930s and '40s Hollywood filmmaking that the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation will showcase in its upcoming "Places of Invention" exhibition, set to open in 2015.
Initiative and creativity drove Hollywood's "Golden Age"a time of great technological change in the motion picture industry, moving from silent and black-and-white to sound and color. "Places of Invention" will highlight the invention and adoption of Technicolor, detailing the three-strip process used in The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind and reveal the people behind its success, inventors Herbert Kalmus, Daniel Comstock and W. Burton Westcott, who set up shop in Hollywood in 1923. Also integral to its success was Natalie Kalmus, a consultant for Technicolor on many classic films who, in making decisions about makeup, costumes and lighting, controlled the aura of Technicolor.
"Our take on the Hollywood story goes behind the camera to examine the inventions that significantly changed both the way movies were made and the complexity and popularity of movies themselves," said Art Molella, director of the center. "The Hollywood and Technicolor stories exemplify the outcomes possible when creativity and collaboration are allowed to thrive."
The invention and evolution of Technicolor made possible such awards as Best Visual Effects while transforming Hollywood into a hot spot of innovationa place where a critical mass of inventive people, networks, institutions and funding come together and creativity flourishes.