Expanded Museum of the Moving Image Opens 1/15


Museum of the Moving Image will welcome the public to its expanded and redesigned home beginning Saturday, January 15, 2011. The new museum, given striking new physical expression in a design by architect Thomas Leeser, features extraordinary new facilities for seeing, studying, enjoying and interacting with screen culture in all its forms. A dedication ceremony on Thursday, January 13, will precede the public opening.

The only institution of its kind in the United States, Moving Image has now doubled in size (from 50,000 to 97,700 square feet) through the $67 million building project, including $54.7 million from the City of New York. An innovative design by Leeser Architecture reimagines the ground floor of the existing City-owned building and provides a three-story addition.

"New York has long been at the center of visual media development, so it's fitting that the nation's only institution dedicated to its exploration-the Museum of the Moving Image- continues to thrive and expand in the City," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "The museum's state-of-the-art expansion in Astoria will allow it to provide new exhibition and screening space and the capacity to double the number of students that its education center serves.  It is an example of the kind of substantial investments we continue to make in New York City's cultural institutions, which benefit New Yorkers and, last year, helped us attract a record number of visitors."

"The inauguration of this building, almost thirty years to the day after this institution was founded, brings to a close our early history while opening a major new chapter in the Museum's life," Moving Image Director Rochelle Slovin stated. "With this new facility designed with such imagination and ingenuity by Thomas Leeser, Museum of the Moving Image enhances its status as one of the major cultural institutions of New York. Thanks to the generosity of our donors-chief among them the City of New York-we are able as never before to illuminate screen culture in all its variety, as both art and industry, for New Yorkers of every age and for our visitors from around the globe."

At this major new cultural destination in the vibrant and diverse Astoria neighborhood of New York, visitors will be immersed in experiences including:
·         an inaugural film, television, and digital-media program, Celebrating the Moving Image (January 15 - February 20), offering six weeks of newly restored classics and contemporary films from around the world, personal appearances, live musical performances and special events, designed to showcase the Museum's new 267-seat theater and new 68-seat Celeste and Armand Bartos Screening Room (see below for highlights)·         Real Virtuality, an inaugural exhibition of boundary-crossing experiments in art and real-time, interactive digital technology (two Moving Image commissions, a U.S. museum premiere, and three New York museum premieres), in the new gallery for changing exhibitions (see below for highlights)·         in the new Video Screening Amphitheater, a commissioned animation, Dolls vs. Dictators (made possible by a grant from the Greenwall Foundation), and related art works by filmmaker and artist Martha Colburn, inspired by dolls in the Museum's unparalleled collection of licensed merchandise·         a large-scale video work, City Glow (2005) by Chiho Aoshima in collaboration with animator Bruce Ferguson, shown for the first time as an unbroken, mural-scale panorama on the new 50-foot-long projection wall in the redesigned lobby·         and a late-night Art Party, Signal to Noise (January 15), organized by Assistant Curator of Digital Media Jason Eppink, will feature Nick Yulman and his robotic orchestra accompanying silent films; Victoria Keddie leading a funeral for Kodachrome with her prepared violin; a double-projector performance by Martha Colburn with a live band; Fall On Your Sword accompanying their mashed-up videos of William Shatner and David Hasselhoff with electro-jams; VJ Shantell Martin extracting partygoers' digital auras while they wait; appearances by laptop rock band Project Jenny, Project Jan; Sweatshoppe; DJ Small Change; Scott Draves and the Electric Sheep; chiptune artists Bit Shifter and Nullsleep performing on hacked Gameboys; and much more.
The Museum has upgraded and reinstalled its 15,000-square-foot core exhibition Behind the Screen, a comprehensive, interactive exploration of how films and television programs are produced, promoted and exhibited. Every monitor and audio-visual projection in the exhibition is brand new. In the spring, a new interactive experience, Foley Sound, will allow visitors to try their hands-and feet-as Foley artists, performing sound effects for scenes from well-known films. Existing interactive exhibits have been reconceived. Visitors will now be able to email the videos they create at the stop-motion animation stands. The Video Flipbook, Automated Dialogue Replacement, Music, and Sound Effects interactive experiences have been redesigned to improve the user experience. A live broadcast editing display will now feature a New York Mets baseball game specially recorded for the Museum by SNY-TV, including feeds from the 12 on-field cameras, the control room, the announcers' booth, the game graphics and the game broadcast itself.
Other amenities of the expansion-renovation include a the Moving Image Café operated by Restaurant Associates; the new Moving Image Store; an on-site space for collection storage, improving researchers' access to the Museum's preeminent collection; and a new outdoor space, the 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Garden (to open later this spring).

The Ann R. and Andrew H. Tisch Education Center on the museum's redesigned ground floor allows the museum to double the annual number of visiting students it serves from 30,000 to 60,000. In addition to providing a dedicated student entry (opening in the spring) and the William Fox Amphitheater for student orientation, the Education Center will provide opportunities for high-tech, hands-on instruction in two media labs, a seminar room and the Nam June Paik Room / HBO Production Lab. The new 68-seat screening room will be used for the Museum's groundbreaking education program Screening America, as well as for other educational programs and public screenings.

Herbert S. Schlosser, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, stated, "From the days of Edison to the Internet, no force has done more than the moving image to transform the world, socially, culturally and economically. The one place where people can get an entertaining yet informed experience of this phenomenon as a whole is at our Museum. Now we have facilities that are as multifaceted and exciting as the stories that we tell."
Highlights of the New Architectural Design
According to Thomas Leeser, Principal of Leeser Architecture, "Museum of the Moving Image must be a dynamic place. The distinction between what is contained and what does the containing can dissolve here, as the visitor encounters the moving image everywhere in a natural, casual way, integrated seamlessly into the spaces. One of our main goals was to allow visitors to experience their movement through the building as a kind of participation in the imaginary movement of images on the screen. At the same time, we have taken full advantage of the unusual luxury of designing spaces for determined purposes, such as the two new theaters."

The Museum, which opened in 1988, was created in one of the City-owned buildings of the former Astoria Studio complex, built in 1920 as the East Coast production facility for Paramount Pictures and now on the National Register of Historic Places. The façade on 35 Avenue therefore retains its original appearance as a three-story industrial structure of masonry and glass, with the exception of one significant intervention.  A new entrance now presents visitors with a portal of mirrored and transparent glass, with the words "Museum of the Moving Image" in letters three and a half feet tall. With its teasing play of light-merging direct vision and reflection within a single frame-the entrance is the first of many screens that visitors encounter at the Museum.

By passing through this screen, visitors leave behind the grid of the city streets and enter an experience where spaces flow freely into one another, gently canted forms lend a sense of dynamism to the walls and ceiling, and surfaces de-materialize into the weightless, illusory depth of the moving image. Along one side of the new lobby, an entire wall (slanted at an 83-degree angle) serves as the surface for a seamless panorama of projected video, as much as 50 feet long and 8 feet high. At the far end of the lobby, a gathering space is carved out beneath a sloping ceiling, whose angle follows the underside of the main theater above. Opposite the gathering space is the new Moving Image Café and the main staircase leading up to two floors of exhibitions.

A pair of ramps enclosed in softly glowing blue tunnels leads up from the lobby to the new 267-seat main theater. Conceived as a capsule for the imaginary voyage of moviegoing, the theater has a wraparound ceiling and walls made of 1,136 fabric panels in vibrant Yves Klein blue, altering the viewer's depth perception and encouraging a sensation of being suspended in the space. The triangular fabric panels are fitted together with open joints, with the lighting integrated into the panel system. With a screen of classic proportions and projection equipment for every format from 16mm to 70mm and high-definition digital 3D, the theater will provide an unsurpassed filmgoing experience. A stage accommodates the Museum's ongoing series of discussions and other live events, while a mini-orchestra pit provides space for musical accompaniment of silent films.

Other notable screening areas in the Museum are a 1,700-square-foot Video Screening Amphitheater and small gallery inserted into the first landing of the grand staircase, where the risers are transformed into an abstract landscape of built-in benches and the screen is the wall above the stair; and a new 68-seat film and digital screening room on the ground floor, used for both education programs and a variety of public screenings. Equal in excellence to the 267-seat main theater but presenting a striking design contrast, this secondary screening room has a hot pink entrance and features exposEd Loudspeakers and a grey, perforated acoustical wall and ceiling surface, making it more of an exposed machine for the moving image.

The new 4,100 square foot gallery for changing exhibitions on the third floor provides the Museum with its first completely flexible space for presenting cutting-edge new projects. Also on the third floor, the new on-site space for collection storage offers an international community of researchers and scholars unprecedented access to much of the Museum's collection of more than 130,000 objects.

The new Education Center occupies the entire west side of the ground floor in both the addition and the existing building, as well as new spaces on the third floor and the lower level. Among the facility's chief design features on the ground floor is a large, flexible space that can be divided into two discrete media labs or function as an open auditorium for up to 100 students, with specially designed mobile computer workstations. At their own terminals, teachers can monitor the work of all the students, or select a particular work-in-progress for high-definition video projection onto a large screen. On the third floor, in the experimental production studio, Museum educators will conduct demonstrations of professional crafts and equipment, and students will make moving images of their own with high-definition cameras. Additionally, a much-needed new student lunch room will be located in the basement.

The Education Center has its dedicated entrance in the Museum's multi-purpose, 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Garden (opening in spring 2011). From this outdoor space, visitors will see a dramatic contrast between the front of the building and the iconic new rear façade. Comprised of a surface pattern of triangles-like those in the main theater, but made in this case out of 1,067 thin aluminum panels, mounted on the support structure with open joints-the light-blue façade looks razor-sharp but creates the impression of a super-light floating skin dematerialized against the sky: another visual reference in the architecture to the infinite thinness of the moving image. The pattern of the panels also brings to mind the lines of wireframe computer drawings. Because the triangular panels must fit together precisely to form the skin, the 200-foot-long façade-like the theater -is built to a tolerance of 3/16 of an inch.