The American Museum of the Moving Image is dedicated to educating the public about the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media, and to examining their impact on culture and society. It achieves these goals by maintaining the nation's largest permanent collection of moving image artifacts, and by offering the public exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, seminars, and other education programs.
The Museum is located on the site of what was once the largest, busiest, and most significant motion picture and television production facility between London and Hollywood, the famous Astoria Studio. Built in 1920 across the East River from midtown Manhattan, the studio was Paramount's East Coast production facility, and, in the 1930s, a site for independent film production. In 1942 the U.S. Army bought the Astoria Studio and renamed it the Signal Corps Photographic Center. The studio filled a major need for expanded productionapability to speed the training of millions of wartime inductees. After the Army left in 1971, the site fell into disrepair until the Museum took shape in the eighties.
The museum has assembled the nation's largest and most comprehensive holdings of moving image artifacts, which is one of the most important collections of its kind in the world, numbering more than 83,000 items. For example, the collection includes: photographed studies of locomotion made by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887; an early mechanical television created in 1931 by C. Francis Jenkins; the chariot driven by Charlton Heston in the epic film BEN HUR (1959); Computer Space, the first coin-operated video arcade game released by Nolan Bushnell in 1971; a character puppet of Yoda, created by Stuart Freeborn for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980); and TUT'S FEVER (1986-88), an installation artwork by Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong.
Museum of the Moving Image is located in the Astoria neighborhood of Manhattan. Astoria is the western-most neighborhood in Queens, running from the East River west to Northern Boulevard and 49th Street, and from Ditmars Boulevard south to Queens Plaza. It is just north of Long Island City, of which Astoria once was and is sometimes still considered to be a part, and is bounded on the north by Steinway and by Woodside on the east. Nestled in one of the most suburban boroughs, Astoria peeks across the East River at Manhattan from its squat houses and commercial buildings. Largely residential, the neighborhood has gone through the usual waves of immigrants over the course of the centuries; first, the Germans, then the Italians and Jews, a massive and significant influx of Greeks, and most recently, Middle Eastern, African, and Eastern Europeans have made Astoria their new home. For a neighborhood that takes its name from John Jacob Astor—once the richest man in America—it remains remarkably middle-class, with a strong sense of community and ethnic heritage, making it a very tight-knit neighborhood. There are, of course, many great ethnic restaurants of all stripes in Astoria, from favorites like Uncle George's Greek Tavern, Il Bambino, and the Bohemian Beer Hall & Garden to Malagueta, Mojave, and The Queens Kickshaw. For drinking, there's the Quays Pub, cocktails at Sweet Afton, and The Barn. For attractions, there's the wonder Noguchi Garden Museum, showcasing the amazing work of the famed sculptor, even more artistic action at Socrates Sculpture Park, and the Museum Of The Moving Image.
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