This past Wednesday night, OHNY staffers Jessica and Hae-In attended The Architectural League‘s 130th Annual Meeting at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. After a long renovation, the Museum reopened in January 2011 with a new expansion designed by architect Thomas Leeser.

entrance to the museum

The Museum of the Moving Image focuses on the art, history, technique and technology of film, television, and digital media by collecting, preserving, and providing access to moving-image related artifacts through multimedia exhibitions and educational programs. The exhibits use a lot of audio and visual components to promote this mission.


Built on the former site of the Kaufman Astoria Studios and Paramount Pictures building, the museum originally opened in 1988 as the American Museum of the Moving Image. In 1970, an effort was made to preserve the building, now landmarked, which had housed many significant productions and turn it into a museum. Renovated by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, it was the first museum in the United States devoted solely to the art, history and technology of film, television and video.

theatre entrance

The new entrance features glass in triangular patterns, with a small canopy, and the Museum’s name in big block letters. The expanded facade appears think, with floating abstract panels that change depending on the light. Inside it is all white, with angled walls and all white furniture.

Tut’s Fever by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong

Much of the permanent collection remains the same, including Tut’s Fever by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong, a real movie theater equipped for video that seats thirty-five people.

the mask used in Mrs. Doubtfire

Behind the Screen, part of the museum’s permanent collection, showcases everything that goes on behind the scenes of tv shows and movies, including makeup, costumes and memorabilia. One of these items is the mask worn by Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), which was fun to see upclose!

detail of Daniel Rozin's Trash Mirror (Edition 3)

There are also new exhibitions, including an installation by Daniel Rozin, called Trash Mirror (Edition 3). Rozin utilized 500 pieces of irregularly-shaped discarded objects salvaged from his pockets as well as NYC sidewalks. The pieces move subtly, seeming to ripple and create different planes by the use of computer controlled motors connected to each object to tilt it toward and away from the light.

view from upstairs

Remarks were made by Annabelle Selldorf, the President of the Architectural League of New York, who updated us on their leadership and events, as well as Thomas Leeser, architect of the recent expansion and renovation. Leeser’s presentation was especially fun, taking us through the history of the site and recent expansion. He also touched on the relationship between film and architecture, and included clips from Wall-E and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

curtain in the new theatre

One of the highlights is the new 264-seat theater lined with over 1,000 bright blue triangular panels, which repeats the facade’s design. The bright curtain by Cindy Sirko jumps out at the audience and adds to the feeling of depth in the space, which is set up for performances as well as film screenings.

Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Avenue (at 37th Street)
Astoria, NY

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