Ansel Adams photograph of the May Company store shortly after its opening. LAPL Photo Collection
The historic landmark former May Company department store at Wilshire and Fairfax could become the major movie museum that L.A. lacks under a memo of understanding agreed to tonight between the boards of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “It is appropriate and long overdue for the city that is home to the motion picture industry to recognize this art form with a museum of its own," said Terry Semel, the Hollywood executive who is co-chair of the LACMA board of trustees. Also from the flackage:
"The LACMA Board is delighted to be facilitating this important cultural event, which has special resonance for me, having spent most of my life dedicated to the great art of movies,” said [Semel.] “The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will provide a much needed destination for cultural tourists and Los Angelenos to learn more about cinema, and the setting could not be more ideal, nestled next to the largest encyclopedic art museum in the Western United States.”
According to Academy President Tom Sherak, “The new museum will be a world-class destination that is a tangible representation of the Academy’s mission. And the idea of our museum being part of a larger cultural center for the arts, in this city that we love, was incredibly compelling to the Academy Board.”
The former May Company, designed in streamline moderne style in 1939 by A.C. Martin and Samuel A. Marks, is now called LACMA West and holds some of the art museum's shows. When the store opened on the Miracle Mile, it became one of the city's hottest shopping spots — and the exterior, especially the gold and black cylindrical corner resembling a perfume bottle, became an icon of Art Deco-era style in Los Angeles.
The Wrap, which originally reported tonight's agreement, said the new location would supersede the film academy's earlier plans to develop a museum on a plot of land it owns on Vine Street in Hollywood. The new location, while not in Hollywood proper, would be located on the coming Westside subway line and would add to the veracity of the Museum Row name sometimes used for that area.
In 2010: Inside the old May Company today