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Archive for the ‘Museums’ Category

The Cinema Museum has won a temporary reprieve according to an article in Time Out this week.  It was due to close at the end of this month after the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, the owners of the building, had decided to sell out.  However, the Trust has agreed to allow the museum to remain for another two months before selling it at the end of May.  The news isn’t up on the Cinema Museum website yet but well worth visiting to experience the guided tour.

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The Movieum

On 22nd February a new museum, the Movieum, opened at County Hall in London. It claims to take visitors behind the scenes of the British film industry through its use of moving image artefacts to chart the production process. The Movieum of London website describes itself in these terms

‘The Movieum is a movie museum that goes behind-the-scenes of the British film industry, showcasing the great UK talent that has produced some of the world’s most famous movies, whilst at the same time displaying the wonderful creative process that they are part of. From the history of Pinewood and Elstree Studios, through to the individual departments that come together to create a film, including Special Effects, Animatronics, Make Up, Wardrobe and much more, there is something for everyone in this entertaining and educational experience. Featuring real sets, props and movie equipment, unseen behind-the-scenes footage, and a walk through the film making process.’

It has already been reviewed favourably The Times whilst The Telegraph emphasises the passion behind the collection, claiming that those looking for a comprehensive, well curated exhibition will be disappointed. I haven’t managed to get down there yet, is it all it claims to be??

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Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), the pioneering photographer who changed the history of the moving image, was born and grew up in Kingston upon Thames. He moved to the United States in 1852 where he developed his interest in analytical motion photography, eventually producing in the 1880s an exhaustive series of photographs, Animal Locomotion. The most famous of these were his galloping horse pictures and later experimented in synthesising motion from photography to prove the authenticity of them.

Zoopraxiscope from Kingston Museum

Zoopraxiscope courtesy of Kingston Museum (click on thumbnail to obtain a larger image)

He did this using the Zoopraxiscope, a device which projected a series of images from glass discs, basically a projecting version of the old Phenakisticsope or ‘spinning picture disk’. In the 1890s he returned to Kingston and on his death in 1904 left his equipment and prints to Kingston Museum. The museum displays the original Zoopraxiscope moving image projector, Muybridge’s biunial lantern with which he delivered his famous lecture tours on the ‘Attitudes of Animals in Motion’, a rare panorama of San Francisco (1878) and assorted packing crates and ephemera. The reserve collection (viewable by appointment) includes Muybridge’s lantern slides, zoopraxiscope discs, prints and a newspaper cutting book which Muybridge kept of his career and achievements.

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Twickenham cinemas

The Palaceum

Model of the Palaceum cinema, from http://www.twickenham-museum.org.uk

Twickenham Museum is a model example of a small museum which has used its website to display more materials and bzackground texts on local history than it can within the small space of its actual building. The site has an excellent section on the cinemas of Twickenham, from 1911 to 1981, including models of the Lyric Palace (opened 1911), the Palaceum (opened 1912), and the Gaiety (opened 1912).

A good source of information on early London cinemas is the London Project site, which has a database of all film venues in London before the First World War.

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Cinema Museum

The Cinema Museum in Lambeth has a new website, which is rich in images of its collections of cinema memorabilia, and the buildings in which these are housed. However, the Museum is having to look for a new home. As this article in The Observer reports, the NHS Trust which owns the building (a former workhouse, which once had Charlie Chaplin’s mother as an inmate) is selling it, and the Museum needs to find a new home by March 2008. Photographs of possible new homes are included on the website.

There’s a marvellous video on the site, and on YouTube, made in 2000, in which Museum founder Ronald Grant shows us round the collections.

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Local history treasures

Delving into local history museums can unearth some unexpected troves of moving image artefacts. Gunnersbury Park Museum in Hounslow, West London may not immediately spring to mind when researching film and television but a clue can be found in the London boroughs it serves, Hounslow and Ealing. Over the years the museum has built up a significant collection of material relating to Ealing Studios, primarily of scripts, posters, campaign books and includes oral history interviews with the editor and producer Sid Cole, his daughter and the assistant director, Tom Pevsner. A couple of models are of special interest in this context, a post production model of the Titfield Thunderbolt and one of the set of Passport to Pimlico. Television researchers can even find the head of the Robot of Death from Dr Who alongside headdresses from Elizabeth R. All research access is by appointment between 9 and 5, weekdays only.

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For most of us, our own moving image artefacts, be it televisions or cameras and all the accompanying paraphernalia, are simply a part of our daily existence, occupying a peripheral area of our lives. It is this almost incidental dimension of screen-related objects that is explored by Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum in its presentation of the social history of the people of the North East of England. Here projectors, cine cameras, stereoscopes and zoetropes are viewed within a much wider social context. One which gives weight to documents such as trade catalogues for example. This collection, which dates from the 1820s, includes early twentieth century items for photographic and optical equipment, ‘Catalogue of Science Lanterns, Magic Lanterns, Dissolving-View Apparatus and Lantern Slides’ (1921) right through to cine film processing leaflets from the 1960s. People’s recollections of working in cinemas, as well as visiting them, are also recorded in some 40 interviews, a significant element of the museum’s oral history collection which was started in 1970.

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