Offshore entertainment: Check out film museums from around the world
Cinema buffs have been archiving, documenting and displaying film-related material since the birth of filmmaking over 120 years ago. Today, there are museums in every country that has a flourishing film industry. Individual collectors and studios also run their own mini museums – there’s one for Mad Max in Australia, for Gone with the Wind in the US, Lord of the Rings sets and props preserved in New Zealand, and a James Bond museum in, of all places, Sweden. The US is also home to Rancho Obi-Wan, which has 3 lakh pieces of Star Wars memorabilia, the world’s largest for the film franchise.
THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES
For top-shelf memorabilia, this is the place to go. Spread across four floors are some 10,000 film-related artefacts: Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar honeymoon dress, Elvis’s bathrobe, Baywatch swimsuits, Rocky’s boxing gloves and Hannibal Lecter’s jail cell from The Silence of the Lambs. There are props from Superman, Star Trek, Transformers, Glee, and items made famous by Michael Jackson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Cruise and Beyoncé. There’s also a display about the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
CHINA NATIONAL FILM MUSEUM, BEIJING
Founded in 2005, it honours a century of Chinese cinema. Exhibitions run across 20 halls, covering more than 1,500 films and the worlds of 450 filmmakers. There are on-site theatres, including an IMAX, and the displays run through China, Hong Kong and Taiwan’s film history, as well as educational films and the craft of filmmaking.
THE CINEMA MUSEUM, LONDON
Housed in Charlie Chaplin’s childhood home, the museum focuses on the golden years of cinema-going: popcorn machines, vintage film projectors, Art Deco cinema chairs, show time boards, usher uniforms, tinted lobby cards, more than a million photographs, fan magazines and trade magazines, campaign books and cinema sheet music.
LA CINÉMATHÈQUE FRANÇAISE, PARIS
The French take their museums seriously and it shows – this is among the world’s largest film-related archives. Many artefacts rep-date World War II, and were smuggled out of German-occupied France to escape destruction from the Nazis. On display are 18th-century image-making machines, magic lanterns, set drawings, storyboards, movie posters and photos. There are screenings every day.
EYE FILMMUSEUM, AMSTERDAM
This extensive archive doubles as a museum and screening facility for Dutch and foreign films. The in-house collection includes objects dating back to 1895, the start of the nation’s film industry. There are some 37,000 films, 60,000 posters, 700,000 photographs and 20,000 books. Films are screened for 12 hours a day and there are dedicated exhibits for filmmakers and technicians.
DEUTSCHE KINEMATHEK, BERLIN
Germany has six museums dedicated to films and cinema. This one combines film and television history and looks at their past and present. There’s a permanent exhibit dedicated to film professionals who were driven into exile by the National Socialists, a collection of 26,000 films and 1 million stills. This is also the home of the Marlene Dietrich Collection, showcasing the life of the firebrand actor who refused to work in Germany while Adolf Hitler was in power.
CINEMA MUSEUM OF IRAN, TEHRAN
Housed in a beautiful 19th-century building, the Cinema Museum of Iran marks the country’s long filmmaking tradition through photographs, posters, documents, costumes, awards and equipment. There are exhibits devoted to the Iran-Iraq war, trailers dating back to 1931, dioramas that go behind the scenes of famous films, and English-language signs. The screening hall (which draws on an archive of 1,000 films) and coffee shop are popular hangouts for the arts community.
HISTORY OF CINEMA MUSEUM, DUBAI
A personal collection amassed by a photography buff over 35 years forms the backbone of this museum. It’s dedicated to educating the layman about the ‘magic’ of filmmaking and the early years of cinema. On display are objects from the 1730s, an 18th century Dutch peepbox (a sort of bioscope), reels from a mutoscope from the 1900s and modern-day tech that makes 3D viewing possible.