Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) joined Museum of the Moving Image director, Rochelle “Shelly” Slovin to help put the finishing touches on the facade of the building last Thursday, after successfully obtaining $2 million in city funding toward the $67 million renovation of the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to screen culture.
The museum, located in Astoria, is set to reopen on Jan. 15, but will be accepting school groups in October, Slovin said. The renovation project consists of a three-story addition, doubling the size of the museum and providing space to store its ample collection, which is currently housed off site.
The new facilities were designed by Thomas Lesser in what Slovin said was the architect’s most notable project to date. Lesser’s proposal was selected after an open call to which 27 architectural firms responded. “We weren’t interested in a star-chitect,” Slovin said, “We wanted an architect who understands media.”
In addition to a state-of-the-art screening room, another high point in Lesser’s design was his alteration of the museum’s entrance, which was moved and made to be level so that all people could come in together — something that was very important to Slovin. Previously there were three steps leading into the museum and people with wheelchairs had to use a ramp.
Slovin said the building complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is LEED silver certified. The museum previously had around 30,000 school children visiting each year, and Slovin said she expects the number to double, thanks to the new Ann and Andrew Tisch Education Center on the re-designed ground floor.
The museum’s permanent exhibit, “Behind the Screen,” is also getting a thorough upgrade with new monitors and technology and a live-editing display featuring a New York Mets baseball game, specifically recorded for the museum.
“With this extraordinary new facility, Museum of the Moving Image enhances its status as one of the major cultural institutions of New York, and shows that we are evolving and growing as quickly as our subject matter,” Slovin said in a statement.
For his part, Van Bramer, who is chairman of the Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee for the City Council said he is “pleased to lead the charge” in securing $2 million for the museum.“In just a few months, the long-awaited expansion and renovation of Museum of the Moving Image will be complete and ready for all of Queens and New York City to enjoy,” Van Bramer said.