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15 Movie Museums Around the World

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bushie, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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 

In 2002, longtime James Bond fan Gunnar Schäfer opened the world’s first museum devoted to British superspy James Bond. Located in Nybro, Sweden, the 007 Museum features more than 60,000 original pieces from the entire film franchise, such as a snowmobile from Die Another Day, the BMW Z3 from Goldeneye, and first editions of all of Ian Fleming’s original James Bond novels.

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.

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10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
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In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

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Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

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In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

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15 Fascinating Facts About Amelia Earhart
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Amelia Earhart was a pioneer, a legend, and a mystery. To celebrate what would be her 120th birthday, we've uncovered 15 things you might not know about the groundbreaking aviator.

1. THE FIRST TIME SHE SAW AN AIRPLANE, SHE WASN'T IMPRESSED.

In Last Flight, a collection of diary entries published posthumously, Earhart recalled feeling unmoved by "a thing of rusty wire and wood" at the Iowa State Fair in 1908. It wasn't until years later that she discovered her passion for aviation, when she worked as a nurse's aide at Toronto's Spadina Military Hospital. She and some friends would spend time at hangars and flying fields, talking to pilots and watching aerial shows. Earhart didn't actually get on a plane herself until 1920, and even then she was just a passenger.

2. SHE WAS A GOOD STUDENT WITH NO PATIENCE FOR SCHOOL.

After working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment in Toronto, Earhart took pre-med classes at Columbia University in 1919. She made good grades, but dropped out after just a year. Earhart re-enrolled at Columbia in 1925 and left school again. She took summer classes at Harvard, but gave up on higher education for good after she didn't get a scholarship to MIT.

3. ANOTHER PIONEERING FEMALE AVIATOR TAUGHT EARHART HOW TO FLY.

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Neta Snook was the first woman to run her own aviation business and commercial airfield. She gave Earhart flying lessons at Kinner Field near Long Beach, California in 1921, reportedly charging $1 in Liberty Bonds for every minute they spent in the air.

4. EARHART BOUGHT HER FIRST PLANE WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF HER FIRST FLYING LESSON.

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She named it The Canary. The used yellow Kinner Airster biplane was the second one ever built. Earhart paid $2000 for it, despite Snook's opinion that it was underpowered, overpriced, and too difficult for a beginner to land.

5. AMY EARHART ENCOURAGED HER DAUGHTER'S PASSION. HER FATHER, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS AFRAID OF FLYING.

Earhart's mom used some of her inheritance to pay for The Canary. She was a bit of an adventurer herself: the first woman to ever climb Pikes Peak in Colorado.

6. EARHART HAD A LOT OF ODD JOBS.

In addition to volunteering as a nurse's aide, Earhart also worked early jobs as a telephone operator and tutor. Earhart was a social worker at Denison House in Boston when she was invited to fly across the Atlantic for the first time (as a passenger) in 1928. At the height of her career, Earhart spent time making speeches, writing articles, and providing career counseling at Purdue University's Department of Aeronautics. Oh, and flying around the world.

7. SHE WASN'T SURE ABOUT MARRIAGE, BUT SHE DEFINITELY BELIEVED IN PRE-NUPS.

When promoter George Putnam contacted Earhart about flying across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, it was her first big break ... and the beginning of their love story. The two began a working relationship, which soon turned into attraction. When Putnam's marriage to Dorothy Binney fell apart, he eventually proposed to Earhart. She said yes, albeit reluctantly.

Earhart wasn't worried about safeguarding financial assets so much as she wanted the two of them to maintain separate identities. Earhart asked Putnam to agree to a trial marriage. If they weren't happy after a year, they'd be free to go their separate ways, no hard feelings. He agreed. They lived happily until her disappearance.

8. SHE WROTE ABOUT FLYING FOR COSMOPOLITAN.

In 1928, Earhart was appointed Cosmopolitan's Aviation Editor. Her 16 published articles—among them "Shall You Let Your Daughter Fly?" and "Why Are Women Afraid to Fly?"—recounted her adventures and encouraged other women to fly, even if they just did so commercially. (Commercial flights date back to 1914, but they wouldn't really take off until after World War II.)

9. FIRST LADY ELEANOR ROOSEVELT WAS SO INSPIRED BY EARHART THAT SHE SIGNED UP FOR FLYING LESSONS.

The two became friends in 1932. Roosevelt got a student permit and a physical examination, but never followed through with her plan.

10. EARHART WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO GET A PILOT'S LICENSE FROM THE NATIONAL AERONAUTIC ASSOCIATION (NAA).

That was in 1923, when pilots and aircrafts weren't legally required to be licensed. Earhart was the sixteenth woman to get licensed by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which was required to set flight records. Still, the FAI didn't maintain women's records until 1928.

11. SHE ACCOMPLISHED A LOT OF "FIRSTS."

Earhart eventually became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger (1928) and then solo (1932) and nonstop from coast to coast (1932) as a pilot. She also set records, period: Earhart was the first person to ever fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, Los Angeles to Mexico City, and Mexico City to Newark, all in 1935.

What do John Glenn, George H.W. Bush, and Amelia Earhart have in common? They all earned an Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. But only Earhart was the first woman—and one of few civilians—to do so.

12. SHE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST CELEBRITIES TO LAUNCH A CLOTHING LINE.

Amelia Earhart Fashions were affordable separates sold exclusively at Macy's and Marshall Field's. The line's dresses, blouses, pants, suits, and hats were made of cotton and parachute silk and featured aviation-inspired details, like propeller-shaped buttons. Earhart studied sewing as a girl and actually made her own samples.

13. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT SPENT $4 MILLION SEARCH FOR EARHART.

At the time, it was the most expensive air and sea search in history. Earhart's plane disappeared July 2, 1937. The official search ended a little over two weeks later on July 19. Putnam then financed a private search, chartering boats to the Phoenix Islands, Christmas Island, Fanning Island, the Gilbert Islands, and the Marshall Islands.

14. THE SEARCH ISN'T OVER.

There are several theories about what happened to Earhart's plane during her last flight. Most people believe she ran out of fuel and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Others believe she landed on an island and died of thirst, starvation, injury, or at the hands of Japanese soldiers in Saipan. In 1970, one man even claimed that Earhart was alive and well and living a secret life in New Jersey.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has explored the theory that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan lived as castaways before dying on Gardner Island, now called Nikumaroro, in the western Pacific. Over the years, they've found a few potential artifacts, including evidence of campfire sites, pieces of Plexiglas, and an empty jar of the brand of freckle cream that Earhart used.

In early July 2017, a photo surfaced that seemed to confirm the theory that Earhart and Noonan crashed and were captured by Japanese soldiers, but that photo was quickly debunked.

15. TODAY, ANOTHER AMELIA EARHART IS MAKING HISTORY.

In 2014, another pilot named Amelia Earhart took to the skies to set a world record. The then-31-year-old California native became the youngest woman to fly 24,300 miles around the world in a single-engine plane. Her namesake never completed the journey, but the younger Earhart landed safely in Oakland on July 11, 2014. We think "Lady Lindy" would be proud.

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