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The Cinema Museum, London
A Visual Visit in 2007

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mark Lyndon + a few lines copied from The Cinema Museum with permissionDate: 16.03.2010
The Cinema Museum is located in the Lambeth Workhouse where Charlie Chaplin had been as a child, when his mother faced destitution. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

On a crisp, clear autumn day, Thomas Hauerslev and I visited The Cinema Museum in London.

Housed in the historic former Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin had spent a traumatic childhood, the Museum boasts one of the most impressive collections of cinema memorabilia in the world.

The Museum collection is largely the result of a lifetime of sheer dedication by one man, in the passionate pursuit of preserving a unique and vanishing cultural heritage. Here you will find a world class treasury of the greatest entertainment industry of them all - the Cinema.
 
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The Guardian

The Cinema Museum
The Master's House
2 Dugard Way
London SE11 4TH
England

Tel.: +44 (0)20 7840 2200
Fax: +44 (0)20 7840 2299

info@cinemamuseum.org.uk


The Cinema Museum is open by appointment. There are open weekends and other events which are announced on the website website


 
Mark Lyndon revisiting older times. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

We were indeed fortunate to be hosted on a guided tour by Ronald Grant, the collector, founder, creator and curator of the Cinema Museum.

Here we discovered the Golden age of the Cinema, lovingly conserved in the exhibits, ranging from actual pieces of cinema architecture to immaculately maintained staff uniforms. All aspects of the Picture Palace are represented, from art deco carpet samples, cutlery from cinema restaurants original art work for posters, to original architectural drawings.
 
 
The Cinema Museum collection is massive and covers all areas of movies and cinema. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Here we gained a special insight into how rich and rewarding the experience of cinema going was for the general public in the twentieth century. Here we could see how far a cry it all was from the drab and pokey multiplexes of today.

For those interested in the technology of twentieth century cinema, which historically achieved the highest standards of presentation of the moving image, the Museum has an impressive collection of cinema projection equipment
 
 
The Cinema Museum's books - a few of them. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

The museum played an important role in restoring the documentary films made by Mitchell and Kenyon in the Edwardian era. They have been screened recently to audiences at the National Film Theatre.

The Museum has a comprehensive archive of materials which are made available to the media for a fee which goes towards day to day finance. The Museum does not enjoy the level of support which organizations like the British Film Institute take for granted. Ronald told us of the difficulties he had experienced with the National Health Service, the present landlord of the building.
 
 
Rusty film cans. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

A very moving highpoint of our visit was a reading by our host from the Charlie Chaplin autobiography, in the very room in which the destitute Chaplin family were housed. Chaplin wrote poignantly of the terrible sufferings of his mother which culminated in her complete breakdown.

We came to the the very heart of the Museum, which of course is a cinema with proper cinema seating and fixtures. It is used from time to time for special screenings from the Museum’s archive.

Cinerama fans will be interested to hear that the Museum includes a unique collection of Cinerama posters as well as three strip footage in fairly good condition.

We ended our tour in traditional British style with a cup of tea and a discussion about our shared passion – The Greatest Show on Earth.
 
 
"I'm Spartacus!".  Image by Thomas Hauerslev

Postscript:

The Cinema Museum has recently acquired a powerful ally in the shape of one of the cinema’ s most celebrated sons - Michael Winner. He presided at a special fund raising event at the Museum in late February 2010
 
 
The filing cabinets - some of them. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Uniforms for any occasion. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Ultra Panavision 70 on the wall. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Many treasures in the museum, including "Brothers Grimm". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Three strip posters of familiar large format films. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Projectors everywhere, even next to the exit. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
 
 
Mr. Ronald Grant our host for the day, founder of the archive and Cinema Museum. Image by Thomas Hauerslev

The Cinema Museum is a charitable organisation founded in 1986. The content of The Cinema Museum ranges from items relating to film production to film exhibition and the experience of cinema going. It represents cinema's rich history from the earliest days to the present. Regardless of the considerable constraints, there has been a continuous stream of activities.
 
 
  
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Updated 21-04-2010