LACMA on Film

December 10, 2008

Much like the smog that appears in the sky each day like a collar stain, L.A. makes frequent appearances in television and film (every car ad these days seems to feature downtown’s Music Center or the Second Street Tunnel, and I can’t count the times I’ve seen the streets lined with craft service tables and bored cops sipping coffee). Our very own museum has also had her share of close-ups over the years.

In the 1990s we had probably the most visible entry in L.A. Story, where a roller skating Steve Martin glides through our galleries. (Martin was a longtime member of LACMA’s Board of Trustees when he made the film.)

LACMA is often a backdrop for parties, as seen in Robert Altman’s 1992 The Player. And speaking of players, LACMA has peeked out from behind Nancy Sinatra and Dean Martin in her 1967 TV special Moving with Nancy.

Sometimes the museum plays itself. In a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files, “Never Send a Boy King to Do a Man’s Job,” Jim Rockford parks his Firebird in front of the (then) fountain-clad LACMA and visits an Egyptian expert whose office doors are the Bing Theater lobby. BCAM has also played a small role on The Young and the Restless, with soap star curators bustling about the campus spouting off art-isms.

The indies also have found LACMA a worthy film location. Minnie and Moskowitz, a Cassavetes film, has the star poised as a curator—in one scene you can see the entrance to the Ahmanson Building, the main staircase, and a contemporary sculpture of a rack of pool balls). The film Miracle Mile uses LACMA, Johnies, and the May Company Building as backdrops.

Even Hancock Park, right behind LACMA, has had a guest spot. It can be seen in I Am Sam (the last scene, where they play ball in the Sixth Street park area). I even caught it on the Fitness Channel in the background of a show featuring Boot Camp LA.

Probably the biggest “blockbuster” appearance was in Volcano, where streams of hot lava flow down Wilshire Boulevard, right past us. My memory is a bit hazy as to whether or not the campus is incinerated, but it’s implied.

Paul Wehby, Senior Graphic Designer


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