Museum of the Moving Image Reopens, Changing Channels Between Oldies and the Cutting Edge

The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is set to reopen tomorrow after being closed for three years for a $67 million remodeling and expansion courtesy of architect Thomas Leeser. The Astoria institution has a 267-seat theater that will host its signature film screenings — but oddly, given its name, the museum does not actually collect films. Instead, it is kicking open its new doors with a renewed focus on its historical collection of 12,000 technological artifacts related to the history of moving-image production, a focus on the more experimental reaches of film and video art, and a zeal to bury the term "new media," according to senior deputy curator Carl Goodman.

"People say, 'Why don't you collect films?'" Goodman said at a press conference yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "There are so many institutions that are already doing that... We have a collection of gadgets dating back from the early 1900s that today are museum pieces. At the time they were 'new media.' In a way a lot of our 12,000 technological artifacts can be thought of as old new media. It's that continuum that we're interested in."

The refurbished building's inaugural programing will include, among other things, a reworked version of its permanent "Behind the Screen" exhibition of media technology artifacts, as well as interactive displays on "screen culture." Meanwhile, a 4,100-square-foot temporary exhibition space opens with the impressive, Goodman-curated "Real Virtuality" exhibition of various experimental art projects. These include a version of Bill Viola's long-gestating fine art video game, "The Night Journey" (still in limbo in terms of a possible general public release, the artist's studio told ARTINFO recently); the world-premier of Belgian art group Workspace Unlimited's "RealTime Unreal," an immersive 3-D installation involving a "customized Quake III game engine"; "Cathedral" by bombastic Italian artist Marco Brambilla, which collages together clips from hundreds of films; and other works by Cao Fei, OpenEnded Group, and Pablo Valbuena.

Also on tap for art fans looking for an excuse to head out to Astoria is a collaboration between Japanese artist Chiho Aoshima (a member of Takashi Murakami's Kaikai Kiki studio) and New Zealand-based animator Bruce Ferguson. The museum's new "Video Screening Amphitheater" hosts a commission from independent filmmaker and artist Martha Colburn called "Dolls vs. Dictators," based on the museums collection of dolls, toys, and film merchandise.

And finally, to coincide with the new Seth Rogan-starring film version of "The Green Hornet," the institution is launching with regular screenings of the 13 episodes of the 1940's adventure serial "The Green Hornet," the first film incarnation of the superhero. It's tough to get more "old media" than that.