Warner Bros. Donates Hollywood Movie Artifacts to the Smithsonian
In a special donation ceremony today, Warner Bros. chairman, Barry Meyer, presented more than 30 Hollywood movie artifacts to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Created for use in 13 Warner Bros. Pictures releases, spanning from 1942 to 2005, the objects represent significant performances and films that have been influential in American life. The objects join the museum’s permanent entertainment collections and offer a rare glimpse into the material culture associated with Hollywood moviemaking.
Meyer presented a wide variety of props and costumes, including the Batman mask and cowl from the 1997 film Batman & Robin, the suit Paul Newman wore in The Helen Morgan Story and props used by the cast in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Costumes, such as Halle Berry’s suit from Catwoman and Christopher Reeve’s outfit from Superman III, enhance the museum’s existing entertainment collections by further addressing the role of the Superhero in American culture. Similarly, the large selection of stop-action puppets from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride enriches the museum’s current collection by documenting a more contemporary generation of puppets.
“At the National Museum of American History we seek to tell an inclusive American story,” said John Gray, director of the museum. “Films are an integral part of this culture and of our daily lives, shaping how we perceive ourselves as Americans. The legacy of Warner Bros. is an important part of American history and these objects help us to tell that story.”
Following the donation, the museum will kick off the 2013 Classic Film Festival series made possible by Warner Bros. The first three-day festival begins this evening featuring the iconic films of Bette Davis in commemoration of Women’s History Month. The selected films show the broad range of Davis’ meticulously crafted cinematic portraits, from the romantic, headstrong young heroine of Jezebel to the bitter former child star of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.
In conjunction with the festival, the museum will showcase a new rotation of objects on loan from the studio in the case, “You Must Remember This.” On view will be the martial arts pants Bruce Lee wore in Enter the Dragon and objects from the films being screened, including Davis’ dress and cape from Now, Voyager and Jack Warner’s personal script from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Other objects representing Warner Bros. studio history are on view, such as Warner’s silver telephone and Bugs Bunny animation drawings.
The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing with new galleries on American business, democracy and culture; an education center; new spaces for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation; public plazas; a Hall of Music for live performances; and the addition of a first-floor window wall with views to the Washington Monument. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.
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