“Behind the Screen” at the Museum of the Moving Image


This past Saturday I ventured out to Astoria, Queens (NY) and made my first ever visit to the Museum of the Moving Image. For the uninitiated, MoMI (as I am calling it) is “the country’s only museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image in all its forms.” (Source: Museum of the Moving Image website)

My focus of interest, of course is cinematic, and I was not disappointed to find on offer, ranging from film screenings to film-related installations. A centerpiece in the exhibition area is Behind the Screen, an ongoing collection of ephemera that “introduces visitors to the history of the moving image, from 19th optical toys to the present-day impact of digital tools on film editing and post-production.” (Source: Museum of the Moving Image website)

Among the highlights for me on my visit include:

  • portrait photography of Hollywood stars from the silent through studio area,
  • Else Lancaster’s wig from The Bride of Frankenstein;
  • Bette Davis’ wig from Jezebel;
  • the fan magazines;
  • script treatments from Citizen Kane and This Gun for Hire;
  • Star Wars action figures and play sets;
  • and very creepily, the life masks from the likes of Dorothy McGuire (The Enchanted Cottage).

Here are a couple of photos from the walkabout:

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Sorry Breaking Bad fans – one collection of snaps you will not see are from the collection of costumes and props from the recently-retired television series (photographing the pieces was strictly prohibited). There were other television related pieces on view and photograph, including Robin Williams’ space costume from Mork and Mindy and one of Bill Cosby’s sweaters from The Cosby Show.

If you are ever in the NYC area, I highly recommend that you catch the N/Q train to 36th Avenue for a wonderful opportunity to see common and obscure items from the world of cinema and television.