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A Glammed Up Museum of the Moving Image Opens its Doors

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire January 12, 2011 at 7:17AM

Unveiling the revamped Museum of the Moving Image for press on January 11, director Rochelle Slovin took pride in what it wasn't. "You're not in Astoria anymore," she said.
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Unveiling the revamped Museum of the Moving Image for press on January 11, director Rochelle Slovin took pride in what it wasn't. "You're not in Astoria anymore," she said.

Founded in 1988, the institution still has its same address in Astoria, Queens. But after a $67 million redesign, the renovated and expanded Museum of the Moving Image does feel as if it exists on a wholly different plain.

Opening its doors officially to the public Saturday January 15, the design by Leeser Architecture modernizes the Museum's look while offering new facilities for seeing, studying and interacting with screen culture.

Highlights include a new 35th Avenue entrance outfitted with mirrored and transparent glass; a spacious and stark white lobby that echoes "2001: A Space Odyssey"; a multipurpose, 10,000-square-foot Courtyard Garden; an Education Center that occupies the entire west side of the ground floor; an upgraded edition of their "Behind the Screen" core exhibition and a new 68-seat film and digital screening room that features a hot-pink entryway.

Perhaps most impressive is the MMI's 267-seat main theater. Conceived as a "capsule for the imaginary voyage of moviegoing" and lined with more than a thousand vibrant blue fabric panels, the theater is equipped with a screen that can accommodate any format and a stage for discussions and other live events. Next to the stage is a mini-orchestra pit that can provide space for silent films' musical accompaniment.

MMI director Rochelle Slovin addressing the media at the press unveiling. Photo by Nigel M. Smith.

"I really think this theater is a masterpiece as a venue for cinema," said MMI's Chief Curator David Schwartz.

Kicking off the slate of films scheduled to screen within the first months of the cinema's unveiling is are 70mm print restorations of Jacques Tati's "Play Time" and Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." Upcoming screenings include a George Melies retrospective and "The Films of David O. Russell" series which will culminate in a special screening of "The Fighter" on January 19, followed by a Q&A with Russell moderated by Spike Jonze.

Click here to learn more about the opening festivities.