Museums aren’t just for hanging art or displaying historical artifacts. All around the world, there are museums devoted to the art of cinema. Whether it’s a tiny tribute to a single movie or a massive institution dedicated to the evolution of filmmaking, here are 15 movie museums you can visit.
1. MAD MAX MUSEUM
First opening its doors in 2010, the Mad Max Museum in Silverton, New South Wales has been a popular tourist attraction for the sleepy town in the Australian Outback. Owner Adrian Bennett’s obsession led him to move his family from northern England to the town where director George Miller and star Mel Gibson filmed 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Over the years, Bennett has collected many important items from the franchise and has built a number of replicas of The Interceptor and other vehicles from the popular film franchise.
2. THE HOLLYWOOD MUSEUM
Located in the heart of America’s movie capital, The Hollywood Museum is the home of the world’s most extensive collection of film props, sets, and costumes from the silent era through the Golden Age of Hollywood to the current slate of superhero movies and franchise blockbusters. Spread over four floors, the museum features more than 10,000 pieces of authentic movie memorabilia, including Marilyn Monroe’s million-dollar honeymoon dress, costumes and makeup from Planet of the Apes, Hannibal Lecter’s jail cell from The Silence of the Lambs, and Rocky’s boxing gloves.
3. MARIETTA GONE WITH THE WIND MUSEUM: SCARLETT ON THE SQUARE
In the historic Old Thomas Warehouse Building in Marietta, Georgia, you’ll find the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum, which is dedicated to both the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Oscar-winning film. It’s home to a treasure trove of movie memorabilia, such as foreign posters, premiere programs, concept art, contracts, and the original Bengaline honeymoon gown Vivien Leigh wore in the movie.
While you’re in town, check out the Gone with the Wind Trail, a living tour of the sites and locations from the book and the movie, including the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta, where the author lived and wrote Gone with the Wind.
4. RANCHO OBI-WAN STAR WARS MUSEUM
Former Wall Street Journal reporter (and longtime Lucasfilm employee) Steve Sansweet founded Rancho Obi-Wan in Petaluma, California in 1998. It’s a nonprofit museum that is the home of the world’s largest collection of privately-owned Star Wars memorabilia. The museum offers regular for Star Wars fans of all ages, plus free educational tours for nearby elementary schools. Currently, Rancho Obi-Wan contains more than 300,000 unique pieces of Star Wars memorabilia from 1977’s A New Hope to 2015’s The Force Awakens, making it the Guinness World Record holder for “Largest Collection of Star Wars Memorabilia.”
5. LA CINÉMATHÈQUE FRANÇAISE
Paris’ La Cinémathèque Française features one of the world’s largest and most expansive film archives. Established in 1936, co-founders Henri Langlois and Georges Franju acquired a large collection of films and documents, but had to smuggle a majority of them out of German-occupied France during World War II, when Nazi authorities were ordered to destroy all films made prior to the occupation. Today, La Cinémathèque Française offers daily screenings and retrospectives of films from all over the world, as it continues to serve as a library and museum of French and world cinema.
6. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE MUSEUM
Built in the old Seneca Theater movie house in Seneca Falls, New York, the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum opened to the public in December 2010. Actress Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey, donated original photos and other memorabilia from her private collection, such as call sheets from production and the Academy Awards program.
The It’s a Wonderful Life Museum first opened to coincide with Seneca Falls’ annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival weekend. Each December, the small town—a.k.a. “The Real Bedford Falls”—transforms itself into George Bailey’s fictional hometown, and programs events like Uncle Billy's “Wonderful” Scavenger Hunt, the "It's a Wonderful" Parade, and "Wonderful" 5K Walk/Run. All while the movie is projected on the big screen at Old Mynderse Academy throughout the weekend.
7. THE LORD OF THE RINGS MUSEUM
While “The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition” traveled to museums all over the world, there is now a permanent museum for all the props and costumes under construction in Wellington, New Zealand. The museum will feature movie artifacts from The Hobbit trilogy as well, while giving the island nation a continuing boost in tourism. The exhibition was housed at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, but now it will soon move into its new home in the city’s center.
In addition, The Weta Cave “mini-museum” in New Zealand offers guided tours of movie memorabilia from The Weta Workshop, such as Avatar and The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, along with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
8. MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE
Established in 1988, the Museum of the Moving Image is devoted to the understanding and enjoyment of the art and history of the technology of film and other media, such as television, video games, and the Internet. Located in Astoria, Queens, the museum offers rare exhibitions, educational programs, and special movie screenings for its members and patrons. You’ll find just about anything film-related, from props and costumes from the original Star Wars movie to the shot-by-shot storyboards from the iconic cropduster scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
9. 007 MUSEUM
There is also a permanent exhibit called “Bond in Motion” at the London Film Museum. It features costumes and vehicles from the franchise, including the Bell Rocket Belt “jet pack” from Thunderball and an Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre.
10. DARIO ARGENTO MUSEUM OF HORROR
Horror director Dario Argento owns a small shop that caters to fans of gory cinema called Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) in Rome. The shop is named after his 1975 giallo film of the same name. For about three euros, you can take a guided tour of its basement, where you’ll find Argento’s personal museum of props, costumes, and memorabilia from his own movies.
11. AUSTRALIAN CENTRE FOR THE MOVING IMAGE
Starting life as the State Film Centre of Victoria in 1946, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image opened in 2002, when it grew from a local collection of Australian movie memorabilia and history to an international and state-of-the-art facility for immersive exhibitions of film, television, and digital culture. Over the years, the ACMI has featured permanent and traveling exhibits, such as "Australian Culture Now," "Pixar: 20 Years of Animation," and "Stanley Kubrick, Inside the Mind of a Visionary Filmmaker."
12. OZ MUSEUM
Founded in 2004, the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas is dedicated to The Wizard of Oz, from L. Frank Baum's classic 1900 book to MGM’s iconic 1939 film. It even features memorabilia from the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical The Wiz and Motown’s film adaptation starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow. Every October, the small Kansas town transforms for its annual “OZtoberFest” weekend with hot air balloon rides and Yellow Brick Road bike tours.
13. A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE
In 2004, owner Brian Jones bought and restored the house at 3159 West 11th Street in Cleveland, OH, which served as Ralphie’s home in A Christmas Story. While the exterior of the house was featured in A Christmas Story, its interior had to be completely restored to match how it appeared in the film because much of the movie was shot on a sound stage in California. Directly across the street from the house is the museum, which features actual props and costumes used during production. The house and the museum operate all year round and tours are open to the public. Although it’s not the same one seen in the movie, there’s even a Chinese restaurant nearby that welcomes museum guests.
14. THE CINEMA MUSEUM
Located in the Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin lived as a child, London’s Cinema Museum features artifacts and memorabilia dating back to the early days of movie theaters all the way through today’s modern multiplexes. In addition to every type of professional and amateur film projector in existence, there are various popcorn machines and cartons, Art Deco cinema chairs, and even old ashtrays.
15. GHIBLI MUSEUM
A very large Totoro welcomes all guests who visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, just outside of Tokyo. The museum opened in 2001 and is dedicated to the animation of Studio Ghibli and the films of director Hayao Miyazaki, who also designed the museum. The museum features exhibits for some of the studio's most popular films, such as Spirited Away and Castle In The Sky. It also features The Saturn Theater, which screens exclusive short films from the Japanese animation studio. With the slogan "Let's Get Lost Together," the museum encourages its guests to explore and immerse themselves in the art and imagination of the studio’s films and the building’s architecture.