In the heart of Astoria, Queens is one of New York City’s best-kept secrets, The American Museum of the Moving Image. This out-of-the-ordinary gem is a surprisingly spacious and interesting two-storied museum focused on film and television history.
The first floor boasts many different exhibits and attractions like walls of memorabilia, fan magazines from the 1940s and different advertising tools.
Visitors can also take a look at the museum’s excellent collection of authentic costumes that were used in television and film productions. Among the items that the Museum of Moving Image has on display are a small portion of the infamous Bill Cosby sweaters from the Cosby Show as well as costumes worn by Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and Catherine Zeta Jones in the award-winning movie Chicago.
Also on the first floor is a contraption called the Magic Mirror, which allows people to see how they would look in iconic costume pieces. After adjusting the height and width people are to pick three different costumes to “try on” and their image is displayed on a mirror in front of them.
The first floor has something for everyone. For the game enthusiast there is an arcade filled with a variety of old school games like Pong, Donkey Kong, and Tron. For history buffs, the museum offers an opportunity to watch some of the first silent movies and read Orson Welles’ handwritten telegraphs. Music lovers can also sit down at a station and enjoy selections from some of the best soundtracks.
There is also a marvelous looking mini theater called Tut’s Fever, which is cleverly designed to look like something straight out of ancient Egypt. The theater pays homage to the magnificently decorated theaters in the 1920s. Every day at 1:30 p.m. there is a classic short movie that can be viewed.
Currently, the whole second floor of the museum is devoted to the “Behind the Scenes” exhibition.As soon as a patron walks into the “Behind the Scenes” gallery, he or she is introduced to the special effects corner. Visitors can see how the child from The Exorcist was able to turn her head 360 degrees and how special effects influence TV and film. There are many masks on display and museum-goers can even see the real gloves used by Freddy Kruger to inflict fear on the Elm Street movie series.
While the first floor of the museum is interactive, the second takes the entertainment to a new level and allows people to get inside movies. For starters, patrons can record their own 10 second video flipbook with themselves as the stars.
A person can also use the power of animation and create a 10-second animation using up to a 100 frames. To do this a person just takes snapshots of real cut-outs and then are allowed to use playback to see their creation.
Another station available is an auto displacement recording studio that allows visitors to add their voices into a real movie and watch a character use their voice. Now anyone can say Dorothy’s famous line “We’re not in Kansas anymore” and have it on display.
In order to show the importance of sound cues, there is a machine that lets visitors swap current movie sound cues. Instead of the usual crash and explosions noises heard in an action movie, a huge crash can be replaced with farm noises.
One of the last interactive things a person can do is play with the musical score. This can make a usually funny scene become sinister or make a rather dramatic scene induce laughter.
All in all, the Museum of the Moving Image is a cool museum that has something for everyone. Unlike the Met or MOMA, the museum is conveniently located in Queens and is less than an hour away from St. John’s University.
Even better, it is usually not bombarded with long lines and tourists. The Museum of the Moving Image’s interactive and informative exhibits make it a must-see spot for everyone in the metropolitan area.