Clint Eastwood Receives James Smithson Bicentennial Medal
At a special ceremony marking the opening of the new Warner Bros. Theater at the National Museum of American History Feb. 1, the Smithsonian presented Clint Eastwood with the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal in honor of Eastwood’s contribution to the American experience through film. The medal recognizes Eastwood’s six decades of captivating national and international audiences through his work as an award-winning actor and director.
“Films are an integral part of our culture and our daily lives. The best films, and, of course, the best actors, remain timeless in our hearts and imaginations,” said Marc Pachter, interim director of the museum. “With the opening of the Warner Bros. Theater we are presenting Casablanca and the performances of Clint Eastwood. They are as significant to the study of the American experience as any artifact in the museum’s collection.”
The Warner Bros. Theater is a modern facility with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including 3-D capability, made possible by a $5 million donation by Warner Bros. Entertainment. Following the ribbon cutting by Eastwood, the museum rolls out the red carpet to the public Feb. 3 - 5 with a three-day festival highlighting the work of Humphrey Bogart. The opening night screening of Casablanca is sold out. The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Big Sleep will be shown free, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. This is the first of four public film festivals in 2012.
To accompany the opening of the new Warner Bros. Theater, a new display of objects will be on view to the public, demonstrating the unique brand of Hollywood storytelling and accessibility that has helped to define American culture to global audiences. The inaugural display will showcase 20 feet of memorabilia, including costumes worn by Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Eastwood along with Harry Potter’s robe.
Visitors will also see objects representing Warner Bros. studio history such as Jack Warner’s silver telephone and Bugs Bunny animation drawings. This gift from Warner Bros. allows the museum to bring new and exciting opportunities to celebrate the art of film to not only Washingtonians, but to global visitors as well. Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros., has long had an appreciation for the arts as well as American history. Meyer visited the museum in 2009 and began to forge a relationship with the Smithsonian.
“Warner Bros. has a rich legacy of entertaining audiences for almost 90 years and truly realizes the importance and value of that history,” said Meyer. “This partnership with the Smithsonian, whose very name signifies the gold standard for the preservation and presentation of all things with historical significance, is a great step toward reminding people that movies and television shows are an important part of our shared culture. The Warner Bros. Theater will be a state-of-the-art venue for highlighting filmed entertainment and programs that are important to people.”
The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, established in 1965, is given under the Secretary’s authority to persons who have made distinguished contributions to the advancement of areas of interest to the Smithsonian. Since 1990, Eastwood is the 69th recipient.
Warner Bros. Entertainment was founded in 1923 by the four Warner brothers, Albert, Sam, Harry and Jack, from Pennsylvania. Today, the studio stands at the forefront of every aspect of the industry from feature film and television production and worldwide distribution to DVD, Blu-ray, digital distribution, animation, comic books, product and brand licensing, international cinemas and broadcasting. A Time Warner company, Warner Bros. maintains operations around the globe, and its iconic WB shield logo is recognized everywhere as a symbol of world-class entertainment. The studio will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2013.
The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. To learn more about the museum, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
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