The Museum of the Moving Image is all about what goes on the screen: film, television, and digital media. It's family friendly, and visitors of all ages will love learning about the history of films as well as what is happening in the contemporary world. In the exhibits you'll find everything from video games to props from classics and television shows.
Of course, a museum all about movies must show them. Every year the museum screens more than 400 films from historical favorites to boundary-breaking modern creations. The museum also hosts discussions, lectures, and other events. Whether you are a film buff or know nothing about the genre, you'll be fascinated by this attraction. There is no place like it.
The Museum of the Moving Image is a New York City institution. It was founded in 1988 and is the only museum in the United States focused solely on film, television, and digital media.
Even the building is historical. It is based in the former Astoria Studio Complex where Paramount filmed their East Coast masterpieces starting in 1920. During WWII the army used it to train soldiers (of course by showing them training films.) By 1977 it was a working studio again. In 1985 it became a museum.
In 2011 the institution underwent a $67 million expansion. Now it has a courtyard, cafe, and beautiful exhibition gallery. It's fun to hang out there long after you're finished browsing the museum.
What to See There
The museum has multiple permanent and temporary exhibits worth seeing. Here is what not to miss.
- Behind the Screen - This is in ongoing exhibit that explores what it actually takes to make a moving image. You'll learn how films are made, marketed, and shown in the movie theaters and your television screen at home. You'll also learn how film making has evolved from the nineteenth century to today.
- The Jim Henson Exhibition - One of the highlights of the museum, this exhibit is all about Jim Henson, the mastermind behind The Muppet Show, the Muppet movies, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth. You'll even see the real puppets used for the Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, and Elmo characters.
- Temporary Exhibits - The museum has a rotating list of exhibits that change every few months. Some delve behind the scenes of specific movies or television shows (The Mad Men exhibit a few years back was a big success.) Others look at periods in cinema history. Even if you've visited the museum many times you can learn something new in these limited-release shows. Check out the full schedule on the website.
- Screenings and Events - The museum hosts multiple screenings a week (or day!) depending on the time of year. You can see classics as well as never-before-released footage. Check the schedule often as events are updated regularly.
How to Visit
The museum is located at 36-01 35 Avenue (at 37th Street) in Astoria. The closest subway stations are the R/M at Steinway Street and N/W at 36 Avenue.
The museum is open Wednesday to Thursday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. On Friday it is open 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. On Saturday and Sunday the hours are 10:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Note: The museum is closed Monday and Tuesday except for certain holidays (check the website for details.) It is also closed on July Fourth or Independence Day.
Museum tickets cost $15 for adults; $11 for senior citizens and students with ID; $9 for youth (ages 3 to 17); and free for children under three.
The museum is free for everyone every Friday from 4:00 to 8:00 pm. The museum can get crowded during that time, so be prepared to be patient. The atmosphere is festive though, so it can be fun!
Tips for Visiting
- Visit on a Friday afternoon when admission is free.
- Check the schedule for film screenings. That is one of the best ways to experience the museum.
- Don't miss the shop where you can buy DVDs, souvenirs, movie posters, video games, and more.
- If you're visiting the museum on a weekend and traveling by subway, don't forget to check the MTA schedule to make sure your line is running smoothly.
Where to Eat
- The museum has a cafe on the main floor of the museum overlooking a courtyard. There are numerous tables and chairs where you can relax after you browse the exhibits. The cafe sells an assortment of baked goods and delicious sandwiches.
- Astoria is known for its diverse food scene, and you can enjoy Croatian, Columbian, Egyptian, Venezuelan, Thai, Brazilian cuisine and more. The neighborhood is known for its Greek food. Check out this guide to the best Greek restaurants in Astoria to find out where to go.
- Near the museum is the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden where your entire family can sprawl out around a picnic table and enjoy German sausages and beer (for the adults!) This is an especially fun spot if the weather is nice.