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Academy Film Museum to Launch Permanent Exhibition on Jewish Hollywood Founders After Outcry Over Exclusion

”Notes“ from museum supporters led to the surprise decision, director and president Bill Kramer says

An Academy Museum of Motion Pictures exhibition on the founders of Hollywood’s studio system will become a permanent one after criticism over a perceived lack of Jewish representation in a museum representing an industry largely built by Jewish immigrants.

Museum director and president Bill Kramer confirmed to TheWrap that a new exhibition of what he calls “the origin story” of the studio system, first planned as a rotating exhibition for sometime in 2023, will become the only permanent fixture in the museum galleries. Details will be announced later in 2022, he said.

“Some of the notes we’ve received have encouraged us to do this as a permanent exhibition, because this is a permanent foundational component of our history,” Kramer said. “After consideration, it makes great sense to us. And we think it’s a fantastic idea.”

The issue had first surfaced in an Oct. 14 article in the Jewish publication Forward. Rolling Stone earlier reported news of the permanent exhibition in a story published last week about the controversy.

A six-week film series at the museum titled “Vienna in Hollywood: The Influence and Impact of Austrians on the Hollywood Film Industry, 1902-2020” was launched in December. Though it had been in the works for months, it was only announced after the early criticism surfaced.

The film series, which explores the large community of predominately Jewish, Austrian-born film artists and movie industry professionals who helped establish Hollywood’s classical era, has a much more niche focus than the planned permanent gallery, which will present an expanded history and become a permanent installation in the museum.

Kramer said the exhibition exploring the origins of Hollywood’s studio system will be the only permanent exhibition in the $482 milion museum, which opened its doors to the public Sept. 30.

“All of our exhibitions are designed to rotate constantly to tell new, diverse, dynamic stories about different craft areas, artists, film professional genres,” he told TheWrap. “We are always looking ahead to new iterations in our exhibitions.

“One exhibition that we have long been discussing and developing is around the founding of the studio system, and why the film industry in the United States became headquartered in Los Angeles,” Kramer continued. “As a museum in Los Angeles, located in the heart of Los Angeles, we think that that will be fascinating story for all of our (visitors): Why are we here?

“And as part of that, we will be embedding and discussing the founders of the studios, of whom many are Jewish…This was always planned to be a rotating exhibition,” he said. “But we decided to make this a permanent exhibition in early 2023 Because we feel like this is the sort of grounding foundational story that our visitors will deeply appreciate.”

Kramer said other gallery exhibitions will continue as previously with rotating content in various components of filmmaking, such as animation, art direction, sound and other facets of the industry. However, he reiterated that the studio system exhibition will not rotate content because” we see this as the core foundational component of our museum.”

The museum said the institution has sold more than 300,000 tickets to date and has exceeded $3 million in sales at its store.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story erred with Academy President Bill Kramer’s name in the sub headline. TheWrap regrets the error.