CLOSE
Original image
bushie, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

15 Movie Museums Around the World

Original image
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.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

Original image
Library of Congress
war
arrow
10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
May 29, 2017
Original image
Library of Congress

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it.

1. THERE WERE FOUR UNKNOWN SOLDIER CANDIDATES FOR THE WWI CRYPT. 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To ensure a truly random selection, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four different WWI American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. After the four identical caskets were lined up for his inspection, Younger chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it. The chosen soldier was transported to the U.S. on the USS Olympia, while the other three were reburied at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.

2. SIMILARLY, TWO UNKNOWN SOLDIERS WERE SELECTED AS POTENTIAL REPRESENTATIVES OF WWII.

One had served in the European Theater and the other served in the Pacific Theater. The Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, chose one of the identical caskets to go on to Arlington. The other was given a burial at sea.

3. THERE WERE FOUR POTENTIAL KOREAN WAR REPRESENTATIVES.

WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

The soldiers were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. This time, Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle was the one to choose the casket. Along with the unknown soldier from WWII, the unknown Korean War soldier lay in the Capitol Rotunda from May 28 to May 30, 1958.

4. THE VIETNAM WAR UNKNOWN WAS SELECTED ON MAY 17, 1984.

Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., selected the Vietnam War representative during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.

5. BUT THE VIETNAM VETERAN WASN'T UNKNOWN FOR LONG.

Wikipedia // Public Domain

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”

6. THE MARBLE SCULPTORS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MANY OTHER U.S. MONUMENTS. 

The Tomb was designed by architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, but the actual carving was done by the Piccirilli Brothers. Even if you don’t know them, you know their work: The brothers carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, the lions outside of the New York Public Library, the Maine Monument in Central Park, the DuPont Circle Fountain in D.C., and much more.

7. THE TOMB HAS BEEN GUARDED 24/7 SINCE 1937. 

Tomb Guards come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard". Serving the U.S. since 1784, the Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the military. They keep watch over the memorial every minute of every day, including when the cemetery is closed and in inclement weather.

8. BECOMING A TOMB GUARD IS INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT.

Members of the Old Guard must apply for the position. If chosen, the applicant goes through an intense training period, in which they must pass tests on weapons, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing, uniform preparation, and orders. Although military members are known for their neat uniforms, it’s said that the Tomb Guards have the highest standards of them all. A knowledge test quizzes applicants on their memorization—including punctuation—of 35 pages on the history of the Tomb. Once they’re selected, Guards “walk the mat” in front of the Tomb for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of year and time of day. They work in 24-hour shifts, however, and when they aren’t walking the mat, they’re in the living quarters beneath it. This gives the sentinels time to complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.

9. THE HONOR IS ALSO INCREDIBLY RARE.

The Tomb Guard badge is the least awarded badge in the Army, and the second least awarded badge in the overall military. (The first is the astronaut badge.) Tomb Guards are held to the highest standards of behavior, and can have their badge taken away for any action on or off duty that could bring disrespect to the Tomb. And that’s for the entire lifetime of the Tomb Guard, even well after his or her guarding duty is over. For the record, it seems that Tomb Guards are rarely female—only three women have held the post.

10. THE STEPS THE GUARDS PERFORM HAVE SPECIFIC MEANING.

Everything the guards do is a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun salute. According to TombGuard.org:

The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the Guard Change ceremony begins.

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES